Richmond hit with major damages claim by former Tiger Ty Zantuck
Richmond hit with major damages claim by former Tiger Ty Zantuck

‘Permanent pain’: Tigers hit with damages claim over jabs

AFL powerhouse Richmond has been hit with a major damages claim over a series of painkilling jabs given to former Tigers hardman Ty Zantuck.

Zantuck's lawyers on Wednesday night lodged a Supreme Court statement of claim alleging he received "15-20 epidurals" between 2002 and 2004 in a bid to get him on the field despite suffering a debilitating back injury.

Zantuck has endured 17 operations on his spine since retiring from the AFL in 2005, can no longer work and is battling permanent pain and depression.

It is understood the damages being sought are in excess of $1 million.

 

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Ty Zantuck with his children Jagger (six years old) and Zepplin (two) in 2018. Picture by Wayne Taylor
Ty Zantuck with his children Jagger (six years old) and Zepplin (two) in 2018. Picture by Wayne Taylor

 

Ty Zantuck struggles with a back injury. Picture: Supplied
Ty Zantuck struggles with a back injury. Picture: Supplied

 

 

Lawyers for the 39-year-old allege "epidural injections were administered to the plaintiff regularly during the football season every 1-3 weeks" from March 2003 until July 2004 "1-2 days before each match for that week".

They claim Richmond and three doctors breached their "duty of care" to Zantuck, saying as a result of his consequent injuries he has suffered:

PARTIAL and permanent incapacity and impairment;

DISFIGUREMENT and scarring at the sites of the epidural injections;

PERMANENT pain and suffering and a loss of the amenities of life;

ECONOMIC loss and a permanent loss of earning capacity.

The statement of claim alleges former Richmond doctor Chris Bradshaw and current doctor Greg Hickey "administered the epidural injections at RFC's training facility on Punt Road or 'off-site' at the Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre".

Dr Vincent Healy also administered epidurals, it is alleged.

Zantuck suffers from a "major depressive disorder with comorbid anxiety and a history of suicide attempts", the claim states.

The claim details a seven-day pre-season training camp where Zantuck, who had been "diagnosed with a bulging disc injury in his lumbar spine and two stress fractures in his lower back as a result of (an) RFC weight-training and running program … complied with the training, including carrying a 30kg backpack on daily hikes through the Grampians".

 

He now suffers from a major depressive disorder. Picture: AAP Image/Ryan Pierse
He now suffers from a major depressive disorder. Picture: AAP Image/Ryan Pierse

 

Zantuck played 68 games for Richmond. Picture: AAP Image/Ryan Pierse
Zantuck played 68 games for Richmond. Picture: AAP Image/Ryan Pierse

"During the course of the training camp, the plaintiff reported to RFC staff running the training program that he was suffering from lower back pain and asked for a dispensation to complete the training, which was again refused but he was permitted to change to a 15kg backpack," the claim says.

He recovered in time to play the first game of the 2002 AFL season against Collingwood before receiving his first local "anaesthetic injection to his lumbar spine".

"Between about 5 April and 11 May 2002 Dr Bradshaw administered one injection (of painkillers) on each training day and one or two injections on match days," it alleges.

"In or about June 2002 the plaintiff advised Dr Bradshaw that the injections were no longer sufficiently numbing the pain in his lower back so as to allow him to play a full game of AFL football at the required elite level … Dr Bradshaw … told the plaintiff something to the effect that he needed to 'go up and have this other needle'."

It is alleged Dr Healy then administered Zantuck with his first epidural injection at Victoria House.

Zantuck allegedly received epidural injections regularly during two years of his career.
Zantuck allegedly received epidural injections regularly during two years of his career.

Zantuck, who played 68 games for Richmond and another nine at Essendon in 2005, has previously warned the AFL's next generation of players to steer clear of painkilling injections at all costs.

"I've laid in hospital for weeks at a time on ketamine and morphine drips and that can just drain the life out of you," the father of two told the Herald Sun in 2018.

Zantuck's mother has claimed football destroyed her son's life and accused the AFL system of mistreating and abandoning her son.

"Ty's whole life has been ruined through football," Karmene said.

"They knew that he had stress fractures in his back, but instead of giving him time off to heal, they kept pumping him full of drugs.

"He got so hooked on any sort of medication that they were giving to him to get through daily life.

"We have had to endure watching him struggle through everything.

"At one stage he got put into a psychiatric clinic in Albert Rd. They found him, and he rang us up, and he was going to the Westgate Bridge to jump off."

The Zantuck case is being led by Greg Griffin, the same lawyer representing the widow of the late Richmond star Shane Tuck.

Originally published as 'Permanent pain': Tigers hit with damages claim over jabs