Millions of dollars are at stake in the damages trial Vanzyl v. Fain.
As the result of an a vehicle collision, Deon Van Zyl suffered a transection of the spinal colum at T-6, leaving him a paraplegic at age 22, with no motion or feeling in his body from the chest down.
Morgan & Morgan's Alexander Clem told the jury that Mr. Vanzyl had been a rugby player and grill cook, with career dreams of becoming an executive chef. But his injury left him severely disabled, with reduced life expectancy, neurogenic bowel and bladder, fewer career options, and permanent medical difficulties. Mr. Clem said that economic damages were in excess of $3M, and general damages for pain and suffering even greater.
For the defense, Banker Lopez Gassler's Dale Parker urged the jury to consider carefully the facts when calculating damages. For example, according to Mr. Parker, Mr. Vanzyl's house could be made accessible for $50K-$150K, instead of requiring a million-dollar new house. Similarly, Mr. Parker suggested that Mr. Vanzyl was earning very good wages in his new career as teacher and deputy principal, and might not have ever made it to executive chef, from his $12/hour grill chef job at the time of the accident.