Nine appeals $3.6m defamation

Nine is appealing a $3.6 million payout awarded to a Toowoomba family, following a legal ruling last year.

Queensland’s Wagner family were defamed by a 2015 60 Minutes story on the 2011 Grantham floods, which insinuated they were responsible for the deaths of 12 people, including 2 children, during an ‘inland tsunami’ that devastated the town.

A court awarded them a total of $3.6 million in damages.

But Nine Network lawyer Sandy Dawson says Justice Peter Applegarth erred when he calculated the payout to the Wagner brothers and his client should pay a much lower figure.

He told the Brisbane Appeal Court today the judge treated the 60 Minutes broadcast and journalist Nicholas Cater’s words as two different publications of the same defamatory material.

“That resulted in double compensation, for the respondents were compensated for Mr Cater’s words twice,” he said.

Last year Nine was ordered to pay the four brothers $600,000 each in damages plus $63,000 in interest. Journalist Nick Cater, who was featured in the program, was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in damages.


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