The man responsible for managing 16 horses that died in transit from Tasmania in January, is claiming $739,000 in damages from operators of the Spirit of Tasmania.
Court documents sighted by The Examiner reveal Andrew Michael Williams filed a civil case with the Supreme Court of Victoria against TT-Line and QUBE Holdings on Friday.
Mr Williams is claiming $639,000 in damages as the combined value of 13 of the 16 horses that died, as well as the loss wages from his polo business estimated to be $100,000.
The horses were among 18 in total on-board a truck being driven by Mr Williams, after competing at the Barnbougle Polo event in the state’s North-East.
Mr Williams alleges the horses died between the time of boarding the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport on January 28 and 2am the following day.
He has accused TT-Line and QUBE Holdings of negligence causing or contributing to the horses’ deaths, claiming they failed to provide the horses with a safe environment, adequate inspection routine and air ventilation while in transit.
Mr Williams was the co-owner of seven of the 13 polo horses referenced in the court claim.
The remaining six were owned by Twynam Agricultural Group, who Mr Williams worked for as a horse complex manager.
Three of the horses were valued at $120,000 each, with the horses’ bloodlines five generations in the making, according to court documents.
How it’s unfolded:
The Examiner first reported that 16 horses had died in transit from Tasmania to NSW on February 7.
Almost seven months later, an investigation led by the Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Department and supported by veterinary authorities in Victoria and NSW remains ongoing.
On Wednesday, a TT-Line spokesman said the company would not comment on the case, until the investigation had been concluded.
“That position remains unchanged,” he said.
A spokesman for Andrew Williams confirmed a legal statement of claim had been lodged, but that no other comment would be provided at this time.
A polo professional and former Australian captain, Mr Williams manages Jemalong Horse Complex in Forbes, NSW and also serves as a director for Willo Polo in Richmond, NSW.
Under Mr Williams management, a group of 33 horses were transported to Tasmania, via the Spirit of Tasmania, on two separate horse trucks in December 2017 and January 2018 respectively.
After competing at the Barnbougle Polo event on January 20, the horses were rested for a week, before departing the property on January 28.
For the return journey, 18 horses were transported by Mr Williams, with a further 12 transported by an employee.
Mr Williams previously said he discovered 16 horses “dead and cold” in the back of his truck, an hour after departing the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne, on January 29.
At the time the Australian Maritime Safety Authority confirmed they were investigating the incident.
An AMSA surveyor attended the Spirit of Tasmania vessel on January 30.
It was found to have complied with requirements relating to the carriage of livestock.
In March DPIPWE confirmed the case was being treated as an isolated incident and the investigation had not revealed any ongoing issues in relation to transport across Bass Strait.
The Spirit of Tasmania was found to have complied with the requirements relating to the carriage of livestock.
Necropsy results carried out by veterinarians at Charles Sturt University on the horses, were also passed on to the investigation.
No results, including a cause of death, have been made public. DPIPWE were contacted for comment.
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