A young rugby player had his career derailed by a surgery gone wrong, and now a New South Wales court ruling has found the doctor behind the procedure liable to the tune of, potentially, millions of dollars.
Former Newcastle Knights and Melbourne Storm player Lucas Miller tore his ACL at 22 years old while training for a semi-professional rugby team in France, and was operated on in early 2011 by Dr. David Jones, according to the court filings. A little more than a year later, Miller re-injured the ligament and, when examined by another doctor, it was found that the original procedure had been performed incorrectly.
To correct the alleged errors in the original surgery, Miller went under the knife three more times between February and July 2012, the report said. While he could compete at a relatively high level, Miller said he always required the assistance of medication to do so, and retired from the game for good at the end of 2014.
However, given his relatively young age and the skill he exhibited in numerous levels of competition, it was expected that Miller would be a "mid-range player," with a salary that might have been considerable if he moved on to leagues outside France or Australia, the documents showed. In the end, the judge ruled that there was a connection between the end of Miller's career and the botched surgery, and awarded the former player damages.
Based on global rugby salary figures and Miller's professed interest in getting into the mining industry after his playing career ended, the court estimated that Miller would likely earn $125,000 per year for seven years (the length of a typical mid-tier rugby player's career) as well as the same amount in mining after the fact, according to the Australian Associated Press. Due to his injuries, however, Miller is now working as a horse trainer with a salary significantly lower than that.
The final dollar value of the damages will be decided at a later date.
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