Richmond hit with AFL injury lawsuit

·2-min read

A former Richmond footballer says he was injected with an epidural every few weeks during the final years of his AFL career just to get through a match.

Ty Zantuck is suing his former club over a debilitating back injury that began as a bulging disc and stress fractures in 2001.

His lawyers have filed a lawsuit in Victoria's Supreme Court, claiming breach of contract and breaches of duties of care owed by the Richmond Football Club and the team's doctors.

Zantuck was drafted in 2000 and played with the Tigers until 2004, but says he's been left with severe back and neck pain, chronic pain syndrome, a major depressive disorder with anxiety and a history of suicide attempts and PTSD as well as permanent loss of earnings.

Court documents reveal he was diagnosed with a back injury stemming from the club's weight training and running program in December 2001 or January 2002 and sought a dispensation from attending a training camp in the Grampians.

The week-long camp included daily hikes with a 30kg backpack. The dispensation was refused, but Zantuck was allowed to carry 15kg instead of 30kg.

His pain continued when pre-season training began and he collapsed in pain suffering sudden back spasms during the first session, it's alleged in court documents.

Zantuck was diagnosed with a slipped disk on top of the earlier injuries. Unable to get through a full game Zantuck says he was injected with local anaesthetic on training and game days to get through matches in early 2002.

But when that no longer worked he was referred for epidural injections, receiving between 15 and 20 during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

It's alleged former Richmond doctor Chris Bradshaw and current doctor Greg Hickey administered the shots, as well as doctor Vincent Healey. All three are also named in the suit.

Zantuck's lawyers claim as a result of the injury, the aggravation of the injury and the effects of the epidural injections left him medically unfit to train and play AFL football.

It's alleged the doctors exposed him to unnecessary harm, failed to obtain informed consent or administer the injections with reasonable medical care and skill.

The club is accused of failing to ensure medical staff were properly trained and not warning, suspending or dismissing staff or doctors who engaged unsafe or dangerous conduct.

Zantuck has asked for a judge-alone trial to resolve the case.

After 68 games at Richmond from 2000-04, Zantuck played nine games for Essendon in 2005 before he was delisted.