Lawyers for Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews sued for damages by cyclist

Michael Warner at the Herald Sun continues his reporting on the crash that nearly killed a young cyclist in January 2013 – and its aftermath.  The 000 call may contain the seeds of damnation … 

Lawyers for cyclist Ryan Meuleman have launched a Supreme Court damages claim in a dramatic escalation of the Daniel and Catherine Andrews car crash dispute.

The Herald Sun can reveal Ryan’s legal team are suing major law firm Slater & Gordon for failing to conduct “a full and proper investigation into the circumstances” of the near-fatal 2013 Blairgowrie smash.

The Premier and his wife, as well as their children, could be called to give evidence if the case proceeds to court.

In a statement of claim lodged on Thursday, Slater & Gordon, a Labor-aligned practice, is accused of failing to act in the best interests of the then-teenage bike rider and breaching its duty of care and obligations to him when negotiating his $80,000 Transport Accident Commission compensation payout.

“Had he (Ryan) been properly advised and had the claim been prepared with due, skill and diligence he could have obtained judgement and/or settlement substantially exceeding the settlement amount,” the claim says.

“The defendant (Slater & Gordon) knew or ought to have known that … the plaintiff (Ryan) suffered injuries by reason of the negligence of the driver of the car which struck his bike in the accident.”

The document also accuses Slater & Gordon of failing “to properly or at all investigate, evaluate and assess” the accident, including “possible conflicts” between sworn statements made by Mr and Mrs Andrews, Ryan’s version of events and notes taken by a triple-0 operator during the Premier’s emergency phone call from the Blairgowrie scene.

It references a Victoria Police running sheet which states that a triple-0 operator who spoke to Mr Andrews moments after the 2013 collision told officers: “My caller was one who hit PT (patient) … Says PT is around 14. Is CO (complaining of) pain but caller unsure of inj (injury) as has had to walk away to call amb (ambulance)”. Ryan’s barrister Daryl Dealehr told the Herald Sun: “The exact words on the notes made by the triple-0 operator at the time of the call are; ‘My caller (Andrews) was one who hit PT (Ryan)’.

“Yet weeks later, Andrews tells police a very different story. His exact words were … ‘I want to make it clear – the cyclist hit our vehicle’. Both versions cannot be true.”

The statement of claim also alleges that Slater & Gordon failed to “identify the correct defendant(s) in the claim”.

The Premier and his wife have always claimed that Catherine was driving the car and that “the cyclist hit our car”.

But Mr Dealehr said the triple-0 note “could suggest Mr Andrews, and not his wife, was the driver of the car at the time of the accident”.

Victoria Police “Traffic Incident System” notes taken four days after the crash, also referenced in the court claim, reveal Ryan’s father Peter “stated that he did his own door knock and S/T (spoke to) a male who stated he heard the vehicle speed around the corner and bowl over his son”.

See our previous report and reconstruction of the crash

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