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AFL legend Gary Ablett senior has launched legal proceedings in the Supreme Court, claiming a breach of duty and negligence against the AFL, as well as the Geelong and Hawthorn football clubs.
A scan last year revealed the 61-year-old – who played 248 games and kicked 1031 goals between 1982 and 1996 – had brain damage, which his lawyer Michel Margalit told The Age was “clearly as a result of physical trauma caused by concussion”.
Gary Ablett playing for Geelong during the heyday of his colourful career.Credit: Fairfax
Margalit, managing principal of Margalit Injury Lawyers, said Ablett’s inability to work because of his “degenerative condition” meant he was not in a position to pay for his medical bills.
She said her client was also denied further financial assistance from the AFL Players’ Association.
“One of the biggest challenges for Gary is he very much is left without the means and ability to fund the care he now requires, given his condition,” Margalit said.
“This is really why he’s been forced, in a sense, to bring the claim; to be able to afford both the medical expenses and medical care he requires … and those costs will only continue to increase.
“He really struggles on a daily basis, and it is very typical symptomatology you see from players, or athletes, who suffer these concussion-related injuries around the world.
“There is everything from memory loss to being unable to work and many other symptoms.”
In the writ, seen by The Age, Ablett’s legal team stated he suffered concussions throughout his VFL/AFL career and that it was “reasonably foreseeable” for the AFL, Hawthorn and Geelong that he was “vulnerable to the injury of concussion caused by head strikes while playing AFL football”.
Ablett is seeking damages, interest and costs from the three defendants, and Margalit said a full statement of claim would be served in the coming months.
“One of the steps is mediation, and we hope that a sensible position is taken by the defendants without need to cause further trauma through a litigious trial,” she said.
“For every injured person; it’s preferable to avoid a trial – but certainly if that’s what it requires, it certainly is something we’re not deterred from doing.”
Two class actions were lodged against the AFL in recent months on behalf of footballers suffering the effects of concussions.
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