Former Richmond player Ty Zantuck sues club for damages over back injury



Richmond Football Club (RFC) and three former and current doctors are being sued over claims they were negligent and breached their duty of care in the treatment of a back injury to former player Ty Zantuck. 

Zantuck played 68 games for the Tigers across five seasons between 2000 and 2004.

Lawyers for the 39-year-old claim Zantuck received up to 20 epidural injections to numb the pain of a debilitating back injury that prevented him from taking to the field.

Zantuck claims the club’s negligence has left him permanently injured, that he is suffering from depression and has attempted suicide.

Richmond Football Club declined to comment.

But at a press conference on Thursday, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said while he could not comment on the specific case, club medical staff were excellent at caring for players.

“I know our doctors here, and I’ve got incredible support for them,” Hardwick said.

“They will not put our player at risk at any stage. They look after the health and wellbeing of our players as well as anyone.

“All I can do is support the AFL medical industry and say they do a wonderful job.”

Ongoing pain has led to anxiety and depression, court documents say

Zantuck was diagnosed with a bulging disc and stress fractures in his back in late 2001 as a result of training, a lawsuit filed in Victoria’s Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon says.

Two weeks later, Zantuck said he was made to wear a heavy backpack during a pre-season training camp in The Grampians, despite asking medical staff for an exemption.

When the 2002 season began, Zantuck received regular injections to numb the pain to allow him to play a full game, the court documents said.

The pain persisted, however, and Zantuck claimed he was instructed to get epidural injections.

“Dr (Chris) Bradshaw told the plaintiff something to the effect that he needed to ‘go up and have this other needle’,” court documents said.

“Between June 2002 and January 2004, the plaintiff continued to suffer from severe back pain that incapacitated him from training and playing football.”

Zantuck had “between about 15-20 epidural injections”, according to the court documents.

“Dr Bradshaw and Dr Hickey administered the epidural injections at RFC’s training facility on Punt Road or ‘off-site’ at the Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre,” the court documents said.

The writ said injections were also given at Victoria House — a medical clinic popular with AFL clubs — by Dr Vincent Healey.

Following each injection, Dr Bradshaw and current club doctor Greg Hickey provided Zantuck with medical clearance to play the next game, the court documents said.

But in the court documents, lawyers said the club and doctors breached their duty of care to Zantuck because they should have known that training and playing would have made the injuries worse and that they effectively remained untreated, aside from the injections.

The writ also claimed doctors failed to gain informed consent from Zantuck before administering the injections and failed to adequately warn him of the risks.

According to the documents, Zantuck continues to suffer from back and neck pain and as a consequence depression, anxiety “and a history of suicide attempts”.

The exact amount in damages being sought by Zantuck is unspecified.

Zantuck’s lawyers have been contacted for comment.

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