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Wrestler Bret Hart Sues Doctor Over Failed Wrist Surgery 

Posted in: Blog, Serious Personal Injury // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
August 1, 2019

Bret Hart (“Hart”), a legendary wrestler known as The Hitman, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Justin Yeung in November 2017 alleging that he botched his wrist surgery and left him in constant pain.

Calgary plastic surgeon, Dr. Justin Yeung, has recently filed his statement of defence in this legal action and is denying all allegations of negligence arising out of his operation on Hart’s wrist.

WHO IS BRET HART?

Hart is a 62 year old man who was born into a wrestling family led by his father Stu Hart, founder of Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling.

Hart began wrestling professionally in 1978 and participated in nearly 3,000 matches until he retired.  He was very successful throughout the 1980s and 1990s in the WWE as a tag team with his brother-in-law, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.  He then wrestled solo and went to win the Intercontinental Championship in August 1991 and became a two-time holder of the title at WrestleMania VIII.  He proceeded to win additional titles throughout the 1990s.

Hart suffered a concussion in 1999 and a significant stroke in 2002, which left him partially paralyzed.  He recovered well.  He also underwent surgery for prostate cancer.  Unbelievably, he returned to WWE in 2010.

HART’S WRIST INJURY

Hart injured his right wrist during a wrestling match in 1981 when he chipped his scaphoid (one of the small bones that constitute the carpal bones of the wrist).  Over time, the injury worsened prompting him to visit Dr. Yeung in September 2015.  Hart underwent surgery in November 2015.

According to Hart’s statement of claim (legal document setting out the issues in dispute and the names of the disagreeing parties):

Dr. Yeung advised Mr. Hart that he could perform surgery to repair his right wrist by a partial fusion of the wrist bones.

Hart’s statement of claim goes on to allege that Dr. Yeung advised Hart that he would have no pain in his wrist and that movement would be restored.

Hart returned to see Dr. Yeung in January 2016 with complaints of severe pain in his wrist and that his right thumb and index finger did not function.  His complaints continued up to his follow-up visit in March 2016 wherein he contends that his “complaints were ignored”.

The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Yeung was negligent (failing to take proper care in doing something) and failed to advise Hart of all of the risks involved in the operation.

Hart alleges that as a result of the unsuccessful operation he is unable to use his right hand to pick up and use objects (i.e. pens, utensils), and is unable to properly dress himself without assistance. 

According to the lawsuit, Hart is seeking general damages of $1 million, plus unspecified amounts for lost income and other losses.

Hart is claiming the following:

  • Dr. Yeung and his team were negligent and breached their duties of care;
  • Dr. Yeung and his team left a tourniquet on Hart’s right arm for too long and cut off circulation to the nerves and tendons of his right index finger and thumb;
  • Hart’s right index finger and thumb were injured, immobilized, by the lack of oxygen they were supplied; and
  • Hart is incapable of participating in recreational and social activities.

DR. YEUNG’S DEFENCE

According to Dr. Yeung’s filed statement of defence (document prepared in response to a statement of claim), he maintains that he provided an acceptable level of care during and following the surgery.

The statement of defence reads:

Dr. Yeung denies any negligence on his part and states that the treatment provided to Hart was skillful, competent and careful and within the accepted standard of practice of plastic surgery in Calgary and elsewhere in Alberta.

Dr. Yeung states, and the fact is, that Hart was at all times made aware of the nature and risks of the procedure performed by Dr. Yeung.

Dr. Yeung claims that the surgery was uneventful and that he addressed all of Hart’s concerns as they became known.  As stated in his statement of defence:

Dr. Yeung ordered all appropriate investigations to address Hart’s post-operative concerns, including diagnostic imaging, urgent electrodiagnostic assessments, electrophysiologic evaluations and nerve conditions studies.

Dr. Yeung maintains that he made all appropriate referrals to address Hart’s complaints, including to physical medicine, rehabilitation specialists, a neurosurgeon and a neurologist.

We will continue to follow the developments in this lawsuit and will provide details of any information or updates in this blog.

This lawsuit is one example of a medical malpractice lawsuit commenced in Canada.  When a medical professional provides sub-standard, reckless or irresponsible care, patients and their families can suffer life-changing consequences.  If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical error or negligence, you need experienced and dependable legal counsel fighting for you.

At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers we are committed to helping you and your loved ones.  We can assemble a team of legal and medical experts to ensure that you put forth the strongest case and receive the compensation you are entitled to.  With over 20 years of experience, the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have handled many different types of medical malpractice claims, and have the experience and knowledge to evaluate your case and help you decide whether you should pursue a claim.  Call us at 403-571-0555 or online today to book a free consultation.

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