A group of detainees held at Darwin’s Don Dale youth detention centre who each rejected $150,000 settlements in their attempt to sue the Northern Territory have lost for a second time.
The four male youths filed the action against the government in 2016 over an incident in 2014 when they were tear-gassed, handcuffed and restrained in spithoods.
Graphic footage of the incident was broadcast by the ABC and lead to the royal commission into Northern Territory youth justice.
The four former detainees, who are now adults, argued that prison officers were not authorised to use tear gas on them and that unreasonable force was used to subdue them.
But their appeal bid was rejected by three Supreme Court judges.
In the original trial, some claims of assault and battery were successful but most were not.
The former detainees appealed after Justice Judith Kelly awarded them a total of $53,000 in damages but also ordered them to pay the government’s legal costs.
Last year, it was revealed that each of the young men rejected a $150,000 government settlement before the trial. Some wanted as much as $350,000, plus a public apology.
In her original findings, Justice Kelly wrote that it was unreasonable for the plaintiff to have rejected “very generous” settlement offers.
"The amounts offered by the plaintiffs in their counter-offers were totally disproportionate to any amount of damages likely to have been awarded to the plaintiffs," she wrote.
“Particularly in light of the fact that the statement of claim did not allege any injury to any of the plaintiffs.”