A Launceston man who built a 12m high tyrannosaurus rex, which was later destroyed by fire, has been awarded $31.2 million in damages in the Supreme Court of South Australia.
The award was the culmination of an eight-year legal battle for Allan Limb. T-Rex was burnt in Adelaide in 1985, and Mr Limb started legal action in 1991.
However, the insurers to the Royal Agricultural Show Society of South Australia, MLC Insurance, will appeal against the decision.
Insurers for the four other defendants would not comment on the chance of an appeal.
Mr Limb, the owner of Tarmak Pty Ltd in St Leonards, was awarded the amount by Justice Robin Millhouse for:
Cost of rebuilding: $3.25 million.
Loss of chance: $20 million.
Interest: $8 million.
Mr Limb, who was in Adelaide yesterday, said that he would rebuild T-Rex.
He said he was relieved it was over, saying the intensity of fighting litigation for eight years had been a ``hell of a draw on his life''.
The Supreme Court case ran for nearly eight weeks earlier this year, with Mr Limb spending nearly five days in the witness box. Justice Millhouse said it was ``quite possible'' for T-Rex to have earned up to $100 million.
The revenue could have come from films such as Jurassic Park and from appearances on the state fair circuit in the US.
``It had the potential to make millions for its owner,'' he said.
He described T-Rex as a ``marvellous contraption'' with a total weight of 18 tonnes, length of about 30m and a height of 12m.
It had 70,000 moving parts, 50 mini computers and 4km of electrical wiring and a skin which gave it a ``lifelike appearance''.
``For Limb it was meant to be a spare time project, a hobby, but it became a consuming passion,'' he said.
Justice Millhouse said that Mr Limb had sometimes worked through the night on the project.
The T-Rex was burnt when workers used oxy acetylene equipment to remove a steel frame encompassing the replica.
No fire blanket was used and hot metal caused the skin to catch on fire.
One defendant attempted to beat the fire out with his hands but was unsuccessful.
Fire extinguishers supplied by the Royal Agricultural Society did not work and fire hoses did not reach the T-Rex.
``The photograph taken soon after shows a pathetic sight. What a disaster! What a tragedy! What a heartbreak!'' Justice Millhouse said.
Justice Millhouse found the four individuals involved to be 70 per cent responsible, and the show society 30 per cent responsible.
Mr Limb had taken the giant replica interstate after failing to find a home for it in Tasmania.