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A promising young footballer whose career was ended after he suffered a serious heart attack on the pitch just days into his professional career has secured millions of pounds in damages after a judge ruled that he had been let down by both a consultant cardiologist and a physician employed by the Premiership club for which he played.
The risk of sudden cardiac arrest in young sportsmen is a recognised phenomenon and the footballer was aged 17, and playing his first game for the club's youth team, when he collapsed. Before signing with the club, he had undergone a screening process that had revealed evidence of a latent heart defect.
The judge found that the cardiologist who screened him had failed to emphasise to the club that his condition needed to be kept under careful review. The club's specialist sports physician had cleared him to take part in training and given his parents false assurances that his heart was normal and that there was nothing to worry about. Both had breached their duties of care.
The cardiologist was found 30 per cent liable and the club's doctor, and hence the club, 70 per cent liable for the teenager's injuries. He suffered serious brain damage and will require professional care for the rest of his life. In approving a final settlement of his claim, the High Court paid tribute to his family and expressed confidence that the payout would meet all his future needs for accommodation, care and equipment. The exact amount of compensation was kept confidential but, given the extent of his needs and lost earnings, it is bound to be a high seven-figure sum.