Dad sues over fatal Sydney seaplane crash

By Margaret Scheikowski
·2-min read

The father of a young girl killed when a seaplane plunged into a river north of Sydney has been given the green light to continue his lawsuit against the operators.

The DHC-2 Beaver, piloted by Gareth Morgan, crashed on December 31 2017 while returning to Sydney with high-profile British businessman Richard Cousins and his family.

The group was completing a Sydney Seaplanes sightseeing trip north of the city when the plane made a sharp turn after take-off and nosedived into Jerusalem Bay on the Hawkesbury River.

Mr Morgan, Mr Cousins, his adult sons Edward and William, fiancee Emma Bowden and her 11-year-old daughter Heather all died.

In December 2019, Heather's father, Alexander Mathew Brodie Page, began proceedings in the Federal Court against Sydney Seaplanes Pty Ltd claiming damages under the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act.

But a judge later dismissed the case ruling the Federal Court didn't have the jurisdiction to hear the action as the flight took place solely in New South Wales.

Mr Page then began proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court in May and sought an order that the case be treated as if it had been started in the NSW court.

Sydney Seaplanes Pty Ltd contended the order shouldn't be made, as the proceedings in the Federal Court were dismissed and Mr Page was out of time to bring a new case in the NSW court.

Justice Christine Adamson on Wednesday found in favour of Mr Page, ruling the Federal Court proceedings be recorded as proceedings in the Supreme Court and deemed to have begun in December 2019.

She noted both sides agreed that under the relevant Act carriers are strictly liable for damages as long as the plaintiff can establish that an "accident" occurred in the course of a flight or while embarking or disembarking.