Carpenter who lost 800 coffins in 2010 storm wants Planning Authority and ministry to pay damages

The First Hall of the Civil Court has rejected a preliminary plea filed by the Planning Authority and the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, who had asked to be non-suited in a claim for damages

The court upheld a joint request for the non-suiting of the Qormi Local Council, the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Ministry for Tourism
The court upheld a joint request for the non-suiting of the Qormi Local Council, the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Ministry for Tourism

The First Hall of the Civil Court has rejected a preliminary plea filed by the Planning Authority and the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, who had asked to be non-suited in a claim for damages filed by an undertaker who suffered hundreds of thousands of euros in damages in 2010's October floods.

Carmelo Mifsud had incurred damages, initially estimated at €350,000, when his Qormi garage was engulfed in the floodwaters which damaged the 800 coffins it contained. A video of some of the coffins floating downstream had become something of a local viral sensation on the internet and prompted a torrent of all sorts of terrible jokes.

Mifsud is arguing that the flooding of Triq Pawlu Farrugia on 25 October, six years ago, was a result of the large-scale development of Qormi Valley that had removed much of the soil that would normally absorb rainwater.

Despite the problem being well known, nobody had taken steps to address the problem or direct rainwater into the valley, the undertaker explained.

Judge Jacqueline Padovani Grima upheld the Qormi council's request to be non-suited, noting that it had incurred out of pocket expenses to clean up the valley, despite the area not falling under its remit.

The court was less impressed by the PA, on the other hand.

Although the final decision was not taken by the authority, this did not remove the PA's substantial impact on the flood relief project, the judge said. It was the PA that had the function and power to make proposals to the minister, she noted.

In a decree handed down earlier today, the court however upheld a joint request for the non-suiting of the Qormi Local Council, the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Ministry for Tourism, noting that no evidence as to their involvement or responsibility had been submitted.

In the same decree, the court also ordered the Director of Public Works to be made a party to the lawsuit.

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