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Cape Town man paralyzed from assault wins 15-year court case

Sculpture of Themis, mythological

Finally triumphant after a 15-year legal battle, Andrew Merryweather is happy to be able to move forward from the night that left him paralyzed. 

Merryweather and his brother, both of Cape Town, South Africa, were involved in a fight with a group of schoolboys in September 2006, when he was 24 years of age.

Andrew MerryweatherThe Western Cape High Court ruled that Oliver Schultz tackled Merryweather against a stationary car, causing catastrophic injuries to his spine.  The Court awarded Merryweather over 11 million rand.

“After a battle for justice that lasted almost 15 years, Andrew Merryweather has been vindicated in the Western Cape High Court, which has ruled that a schoolboy who tackled him during a 2006 altercation was responsible for inflicting catastrophic injuries on Andrew that left him paraplegic, in constant pain, and permanently reliant on a wheelchair,” read a statement from Merryweather’s legal team of DSC Attorneys.

This was not the first time that Merryweather had won his case.  Although short-lived, he had succeeded in obtaining a default judgment in the Western Cape High Court in an amount of 11.4 million rand in 2013. The judgment was rescinded in 2016.

“Andrew was left with no choice but to relaunch that civil claim. He was represented in this action by personal injury law firm DSC Attorneys, represented by Celeste Wolpe-Munitz, with advocate, John Whitehead, SC, arguing the matter before court. Advocate Whitehead has been leading Andrew’s legal efforts to get justice from the outset,” the statement read.

In the latest legal action, Judge Yasmin Shehnaz Meer said it was key to establish that Merryweather’s injuries were caused by a spear tackle.

Responding to the judgment, Merryweather said he heard the news from Advocate Whitehead.  “I received a phone call from advocate John Whitehead to tell me judgment was handed down and we were successful.  It was very emotional and still feels surreal because this has been a long journey.”

He added, “When Schultz wakes up tomorrow, his life will go on as normal.  Scholtz can walk hand-in-hand with his partner along the beach, hike up Table Mountain and go on spontaneous weekends away.  His possibilities to enjoy life are endless.

“Tomorrow when I wake up, I will still be paralyzed and facing a lifetime of physical nerve pain, hospital visits and confined to my wheelchair prison, which is a constant reminder of everything I have lost and all the activities I can no longer do.”

Kirstie Hassam, partner at DSC Attorneys said, “We have been acting for Andrew in respect of the devastating injuries he sustained as a result of this assault which took place over a decade ago, so we are very pleased with this eventual fair and just outcome.”

“I am relieved that this legal marathon, which has been such a heavy weight on my shoulders for an eternity, is now over. I will be able to close this chapter of my life and move forward, which in itself feels like I have been given a new lease on life,” Merryweather said.

But there is still one more chapter to be closed; Merryweather’s lawyers will attempt to prove the amount of damages entitled to him in a further hearing.

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