PLN 15 million in compensation for negligence in flood protection

28 March 2024

On 22nd March 2024, Kubas Kos Gałkowski concluded the first 11 settlements as a part of settlement negotiations conducted after winning the class (group) proceedings; based on these settlements – our clients (11 entities) will receive compensation in the amount of over PLN 15 million (incl. interest). The injured parties were represented by attorneys Agnieszka Trzaska-Śmieszek and Dominik Gałkowski – partners at KKG.

In April 2021, we successfully completed group (class) proceedings on behalf of a group of victims whose property was inundated by flood waters in the vicinity of PŁOCK in 2010 , in which the courts (i.e. in the first instance the District Court in Płock in the judgement of 23rd April 2018, reference number I C 863/12 and in the second instance the Court of Appeal in the judgment of 14th April 2021, reference number I ACa 1099/18, I ACz 1451/18) determined that the three Defendant entities (government and local government administration authorities) assert joint and several liability for damages towards 27 members of the group resulting from a tortious act consisting in the unlawful exercise of public authority by the defendants in the field of flood protection in the defendants’ area of jurisdiction, the negligence of which collectively led to the breach of the flood embankment located along the left bank the Vistula River, km Wisła 611, in the town of Świniary, Słubice commune, Płock poviat, Masovian Voivodeship, on 23rd May 2010, and then flooding the area located on the left side of the Vistula in the area of the Iłowo-Dobrzykowska Valley twice, in May and June 2010.

After the conclusion of the group (class) proceedings to determine liability, we invited the entities responsible to repair damages in the light of court decisions, i.e. the State Treasury – represented by the state water company Państwowe Gospodarstwo Wodne Wody Polskie and the Governor of the Masovian Voivodeship, as well as with the Masovian Voivodeship to enter into settlement negotiations regarding the compensation due to our clients. In fact, these talks began only in mid-2023, as meanwhile, all the Defendants filed cassation complaints to the Supreme Court against the final judgment of the Court of Appeal in Łódź,. These complaints were accepted by the Supreme Court for consideration, and luckily for our clients – on 12th April 2023, they were dismissed by the judgments of the Supreme Court, ref. no. II CSKP 28/23 and II CSKP 1948/22. The Supreme Court’s decisions became an incentive for the defendants to enter into settlement talks regarding the payment of compensation. Their first stage has just ended with the signing of the first 11 settlements.

The subject matter of the settlements are claims for compensation owed by the entities liable to the injured parties, together with statutory interest for the delayed payment of compensation.

The settlements provide our clients with specific compensation corresponding to the value of the damage they suffered (the injured parties made notable concessions under the settlements only with regards to a part of the owed interest).

The settlement negotiations allowed the group members to receive compensation in less than a year – after the Supreme Court “had the last word” in the group case. Unfortunately, in the light of current functioning of the Polish judiciary – closing court cases for compensation within that period, even given prior determination of the liability for compensation – would not be feasible. Individual cases for payment would last at least 2-4 years, among others, because in cases for compensation, the courts normally rely on expert opinions to appraise the damage and compensation due – which prolongs the proceedings.

“We are glad that the Polish public sector has undergone changes in recent years and that cases involving public entities may be resolved not only by the court but also amicably which the General Prosecutor’s Office and its recommendations contributed to. We are also deeply satisfied that after many years of the group proceedings, its beneficiaries finally receive compensation,” comments Agnieszka Trzaska-Śmieszek, attorney for the injured parties.

The settlements entered into on 22nd March 2024 with the public entities – are not the first ones we have concluded. This is actually the third group of settlements. The first two series of settlements concluded in October 2022 and February 2023 were related to the injured parties – former group members of our first group proceedings, the “SANDOMIERZ” group proceedings.