Former Tiger seeks to lift damages bid with concussion claim

The Age

By Jon Pierik

October 22, 2021

A former Richmond footballer is pushing to heighten his legal case against the club,n claiming he suffered up to 30 concussions which have led to a range of neurological disorders and several suicide attempts.

In a week when state coroner Judge John Cain’s comments that he intended to embrace limited parameters in the investigation into the death of Shane Tuck left former AFL players angry and upset, it has emerged that another Tiger, Ty Zantuck, has filed an amended claim in the Victorian Supreme Court detailing how he has been left impaired by a number of serious head knocks.

But whether the amended claim, filed out of time, and in addition to the earlier allegations that he was left with chronic orthopaedic and back injuries, is accepted won’t be decided by the court until a

hearing on November 16.

Zantuck, who played 68 games for the Tigers between 2000 and 2004, is already suing the Tigers and three former and current doctors, alleging they were negligent and breached their

duty of care in the treatment of a back injury that he claims left him permanently injured, depressed and prompted him to attempt suicide. The Tigers and the three doctors have all denied the original orthopaedic claims made by Zantuck. Sources close to Zantuck expect the Tigers, criticised by his lawyer Greg Griffin for

not having detailed medical records from the time, to fight having the amended claim added to Zantuck’s earlier case. The Tigers did not wish to comment on the amended claim when

contacted by The Age.

Former Richmond doctor Chris Bradshaw, current club doctor Greg Hickey and another doctor Vincent Healey have all denied the original allegation of negligence, along with the

Tigers. Zantuck claims the back injury, the fall-out from it and the impact of the epidural injections left him medically unfit to train and play AFL football.

Among the statements lodged by the defence to Zantuck’s initial claim, the Tigers deny “that any act or omission on its part caused injury, loss or damage to the plaintiff”. Hickey

denied that between January 2004 and August 2004 Zantuck had back pain which “incapacitated” him playing football, while Bradshaw said at all times he acted professionally as a doctor. Healey denied any negligence.

But the club and doctors are now facing more claims from lawyer Greg Griffin and Zantuck that the latter has short-term memory loss, is at risk of early onset dementia and is at

greater risk of CTE, a degenerative brain disease.

“Mr Zantuck was drafted to RFC at 17 years old and recalls that the football he played in his teens leading up to his time at the RFC was relatively low contact,” the amended statement, seen by The Age, says.

“He does not recall significant head knocks or concussions before he commenced playing for RFC in 2000. Mr Zantuck estimates that he suffered between 20-30 concussions during his

employment at RFC between 2000-04.” Griffin and his team have analysed footage of many of Zantuck’s matches, and point out the

serious knocks they believe he had in round 21, 2002, round one, 2003 and round 12, 2003.

“The clips of Mr Zantuck from round 1 played on 28 March 2003 are particularly relevant,” the statement says, adding he had suffered a broken cheek bone on February 13, 2003 in a

non-football incident which required the insertion of a plate.

“Some six weeks after that surgery, Mr Zantuck suffered in round 1 what appears to be two serous head knocks to the side of his face the subject of the surgery.

“Of further evidence is that notwithstanding the medical advice given to RFC and Mr Zantuck that he should not engage in physical training or play competitive football for a

period of six weeks after the broken cheek bone, he returned to running and swimming and then competitive training within weeks of the surgery thereby not complying with the

medical advice he had received.

“RFC and the medical staff were aware of the time period in which Mr Zantuck should have not engaged in these activities.”

Dr Rowena Mobbs, a consultant neurologist, has compiled Zantuck’s detailed medical

history which is included in the updated statement of claim. In summary, it is claimed he suffers sensitised back pain, severe neck pain, chronic pain

syndrome, major depressive disorder “with co-morbid anxiety and a history of suicide

attempts”, post-traumatic stress disorder and a range of neurological disorders.

These include “short-term memory loss, the risk of early onset of dementia … an increased risk of the onset of CTE, an inability to control his temper over issues that previously were

minor and of no consequence … ”

Zantuck also played nine matches for Essendon in 2005 but “does not recall any significant collisions or head knocks during his time at Essendon”.

In April, Griffin filed documents stating Zantuck was diagnosed with a back injury as a result of the club’s weight training and running program in December 2001 or January 2002. He

had asked not to attend a training camp in the Grampians where players were due to hike with a 30-kilogram backpack.

Zantuck’s request was denied but the weight of his bag was cut to 15 kg. He says he soon suffered back spasms, was diagnosed with a slipped disc and says he was

injected with local anaesthetic. He says he then had between 15 and 20 epidural injections during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.


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