eThekwini to pay R500k for court delay

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Durban - The eThekwini municipality has to fork out another R500 000 in costs after it was yet again not ready to proceed to trial on Monday in a potential R40 million claim by a motorcyclist who was left a paraplegic after he hit a pothole in Durban’s Botanic Gardens Road 25 years ago.

Scott Taylor’s trial - which is to determine the amount he will be compensated by the eThekwini municipality after it conceded liability for the accident three years ago - was set down to begin in the Durban High Court this week.

Taylor, 44, who lives in Devon, England, arrived in Durban last week to prepare for the trial and two of his British-based expert witnesses had cleared their diaries and booked their tickets to arrive this weekend.

But The Mercury understands that lawyers acting for the city still have to secure reports from one of their experts after briefing one in England, who refused to come to South Africa to testify.

In terms of an order taken by consent and granted by Judge Gregory Kruger on Monday, the case had now been set down for next year.

The city has to pay Scott R5 million as an interim payment and his “agreed costs” of the adjournment, R502 000, within 30 days.

In May, The Mercury reported that the city had not briefed its own experts in the matter, even though the case had been set down for the last week of August.

Scott’s lawyers brought a court application, complaining about the “silence” from the city for the past year when trial preparations should be in full swing.

They alleged that the city had done nothing since a pre-trial conference in March last year and had not responded to various issues regarding admissions about Scott’s injuries, treatment he received and hospital records.

They argued that Scott had not been seen by any of the city’s expert witnesses, even though he had made himself available for this.

In that order, also taken by consent, the city agreed to respond by June and to pay the costs of the application.

Taylor was 19 years old in February 1989 when, while returning home to Durban North from the then-technikon, he hit the pothole and crashed into a tree, fracturing his spine and leaving him wheelchair-bound.

Because of prescription laws, Scott’s lawyers served summons in 1990 but waited until liability laws were more favourable to these types of claims before taking it further.

The city has agreed to pay out 75 percent of his proven claim.

The trial has been set down for the first week of February next year.

The Mercury


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