The West

Race blaze victim to sue organisers for $10m
Turia Pitt in 2007.

Lawyers acting for Kimberley ultramarathon burns victim Turia Pitt are planning to sue the event's organisers for "in excess of $10 million".

Details of the writ drawn up against Hong Kong-based Racing the Planet come as a parliamentary committee today hands down a report from a five-month inquiry into the bushfire-marred race.

Ms Pitt, 24, and fellow runner Kate Sanderson, 36, suffered life-threatening burns when a fire swept through the race course on September 2 last year.

Competitors Michael Hull and Martin Van Der Merwe were also burnt.

Greg Walsh, who is representing competitors Ms Pitt, Mr Van Der Merwe and his son Shaun Van Der Merwe, Mr Hull and Hal Benson, said yesterday that the writ might be expanded if there were adverse findings against WA Government agencies.

The race was sponsored by Tourism WA.

"But the fact is the only organiser of this event was Racing the Planet and they're a professional organiser which make huge profits out of organising these events around the world," Mr Walsh said.

He said so far Ms Pitt's medical costs were $3 million. She was due for her 12th operation, on her left hand, next week and faced another "10 or more major operations".

Ms Pitt had burns to 64 per cent of her body, had four fingers and a thumb amputated on her right hand and wore a compression suit.

Burns victims Kate Sanderson, left, and Turia Pitt. Picture: Michael Wilson/the West Australian.

"I would anticipate, with a catastrophically injured person like this, she was an engineer earning about $130,000 a year … a figure well in excess of $10 million comes to mind … $10 to $15 million," Mr Walsh said. He anticipated seeking lower sums for his other clients of "hundreds of thousands of dollars".

Turia Pitt, a contestant in a beauty pageant.

But he said any legal action initiated in NSW, where Ms Pitt lives, might be complicated because RTP was a Hong Kong company, had its legal waiver registered in the British Virgin Islands and the race was run in WA.

Racing the Planet has maintained that it had done everything it could to prepare for the race, with company founder Mary Gadams telling the inquiry there was "no convenient villain". She did not respond to questions yesterday.

The West Australian

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