More than 60 victims of a terrifying crowd crush at last year’s Falls Festival are taking the event organisers to court.
Nineteen people were taken to hospital with broken bones or other serious injuries and dozens more were hurt when a stampede broke out between acts in the Grand Theatre at the Falls Music and Arts Festival at Lorne on December 30.
A class action was lodged in the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Lead plaintiff Michela Burke, 21, suffered nerve damage to her left arm after being caught up in the crush.
Ms Burke only remembers “snippets” of the ordeal, but recalls she and her boyfriend were trying to leave when people started piling up and she couldn’t breathe.
“My next solid memory was me sitting on the grass and my arm was just limp, it was just sort of falling beside me and I was carrying it with my other hand,” Ms Burke told AAP on Thursday.
The Melbourne University French and psychology student was forced to cancel an exchange to Montreal and is unable to work as a swim centre lifeguard.
She sees a hand therapist and neurologist and takes nerve medication because the pain left her unable to sleep, drive, use a knife and fork, or even wash her hair.
Warrnambool firm Maddens Lawyers senior partner Brendan Prendergast said about 65 people are on the statement of claim, with more likely to come forward.
“Everyone we’ve spoken to reports being absolutely terrified,” he told AAP.
“I think many people are thinking they could’ve potentially lost their lives.”
Many victims had bruising and swelling to their eyes, possibly from the pressure, Mr Prendergast said.
People paid up to $468 plus booking fees for the four-day camping festival.
The claim alleges organisers restricted the exit from the theatre and timetabling caused a rush of people to leave.
At the time, organisers blamed the incident on a “confluence of events”.
On Thursday, co-producer Jessica Ducrou said in a statement the festival was co-operating with a WorkSafe investigation and was giving assistance to affected patrons.
“However, given the matter is as of today the subject of legal proceedings, we are not in a position to comment further,” she said.
Ms Ducrou confirmed Falls Festival will “definitely be going ahead in 2017”.