Angela Vithoulkas, City of Sydney councillor and founder of The Small Business Party, has lodged a lawsuit against Transport for NSW with the NSW Supreme Court today on behalf of some 60+ Sydney businesses affected by light rail construction.
Vithoukas has the backing of Mitry Lawyers, the team behind a similar class action suit in Newcastle. It is believed the firm has secured third-party litigation funding for the action.
According to a media statement, the class action suit argues Transport NSW “undertook the project in a manner which caused severe consequences and in a manner that could have been avoided”.
The suit goes on to suggest that “those consequences caused undue nuisance upon business owners and landlords in the affected zones”.
Vithoulkas has been a passionate campaigner to seek justice for Sydney businesses affected by the light rail. Following a sustained two-year campaign, Vithoulkas was instrumental in getting the state government to provide rent relief for those affected by the construction.
Just two weeks ago, Vithoulkas and Mitry were also calling for action in Newcastle where they were encouraging local business owners to join a class action suit against the Newcastle light rail project.
Lawyer Richard Mitry told the Newcastle Herald the loss and damage suffered by businesses was “substantial and appreciably greater in degree than that suffered by the general public”.
Vithoulkas has a very personal stake in the upcoming lawsuit. Her family-run business, Vivo Café, shut its doors last week after a 16-year residency on George Street. The business had suffered a massive decline in sales and patronage following the commencement of construction of the light rail.
Despite or perhaps because of the dire consequences to her business, Vithoulkas has become an outspoken and passionate advocate for small business owners affected by the construction. Filing papers this morning was the culmination of months of work.
Commenting on Twitter earlier today, Vithoulkas reiterated her scorn for Transport for NSW and its lack of regard for local business owners.
“Transport for NSW were negligent on this project and business is standing up today to seek justice for their devastating losses,” she said.