Ex-EFL player Roger Johnson loses in an attempt to sue a surgeon for £1m, claiming the ‘procedure ended his career and caused depression.
The 39 year old, who played for the likes of Wycombe, Cardiff, Birmingham, Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton and Bromley, suffered a meniscus tear to his left knee in training during his time with the Addicks.
It is claimed that after an operation at Williams’ Fortius Clinic in London, the injury became infected and required further surgery weeks later, reports The Star.
He claimed that Williams’ surgery damaged a tendon, which led to swelling and pain, and has since blamed the doctor for failing to recognise the damage that had been caused, or chose not to tell him, and that his treatment was “negligent”.
Johnson, currently a first team coach at National League outfit Bromley, filed against surgeon Andy Williams who carried out the operation.
A few months after his knee issue at Charlton, he was axed and dropped into non league level with the club he now works at, retiring from playing in 2019 at the age of 36.
After looking at documents submitted to London’s High Court, Johnson’s name appears, suing the surgeon for the seven figure sum, however a further claim against the clinic was since dropped.
Williams, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who has worked with Premier League football clubs and Premiership rugby teams, denied the allegations and said any complication following the surgery was a result of Johnson’s knee having become infected following initial surgery on it two months earlier.
Papers were handed to London’s High Court said that Johnson has suffered anxiety and depression since the decline of his career.
In a ruling published on Tuesday the 21st of June 2022, Judge Jeremy Hyam QC said there was not enough evidence to conclude that the defect in Johnson’s knee was caused by the surgeon.
The judge said: “In summary, the evidence adduced by the claimant and his expert has not been sufficiently cogent or compelling to allow me to conclude on the balance of probabilities that the defendant caused a 3cm diameter defect to the claimant’s medial retinaculum on the 17th of March 2017 in the course of the synovectomy procedure.”
Williams denied causing the rupture, arguing that other factors could have contributed to Johnson’s condition, such as an infection or the player allegedly not complying with medical advice.
The surgeon and Johnson both attended a trial at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in May.
Satinder Hunjan QC, representing Johnson, explained in written arguments that Johnson suffered a knee meniscus tear on the 27th of January 2017 during a training session at Charlton.
He was told surgery on the tear would see him “fully fit within 16 weeks” and was operated on by Williams four days later, the barrister said.
Late February saw Johnson experiencing swelling and sharp pains across his knee.
He was later told that his knee has become infected and underwent urgent surgery on the 17th of March, Hunjan said.
A tear in the medial retinaculum was later diagnosed in an MRI scan performed on the 11th of April at the Fortius Clinic in London where Williams practises.
Hunjan claimed the former footballer intended to have a “relatively straightforward” procedure in March but no infection was found and he was “left with a large defect in his medial retinaculum, continuing significant problems and with the substantial uncertainty of his recovery and ability to return to elite football – the fact is that he never recovered following the surgery”.
“A surgical error was made in this case which, unfortunately, has had significant consequences for the claimant (Johnson),” he added.
“Despite an extensive period of rehabilitation, the claimant attempted to return to training in September 2017 but he was unable to continue playing at a high level due to the ongoing swelling and pain resulting from the damage caused during the surgery,” Hunjan said.
He said Johnson “has been unable to continue his career as a professional footballer and has attempted to pursue a career in football coaching” as well as “a limited career undertaking media and related work”.
Mary O’Rourke QC, for Williams, argued in her written submissions that there was “no evidence, on the balance of probabilities, to support any significant defect being present on or immediately after the procedure on March 17”.
She added: “The defendant’s (Williams) primary case is that there was no negligence on his part causing the tear as diagnosed on April 11, but that if the court’s finding is that he did cause the tear on March 17 then it had healed by the beginning of July… and would/could have had no impact on the claimant’s career given his age/stage of career and the agreement of the orthopaedic experts as to osteoarthritis of the knee ending his career.”
ROGER JOHNSON’S CAREER:
1998–2000 – Wycombe Wanderers
2000–2006 – Wycombe Wanderers – 157 games (19 goals)
2006–2009 – Cardiff City – 119 games (12 goals)
2009–2011 – Birmingham City – 76 games (2 goals)
2011–2015 – Wolverhampton Wanderers – 69 games (2 goals)
2013–2014 → Sheffield Wednesday (loan) – 17 games (0 goals)
2014 → West Ham United (loan) – 4 games (0 goals)
2015 – Charlton Athletic – 14 games (0 goals)
2015 – Pune City – 11 games (0 goals)
2016–2017 – Charlton Athletic – 6 games (0 goals)
2017–2019 – Bromley – 52 games (2 goals)
Total – 525 games (37 goals)
FA Cup runner-up: 2007–08
Football League Cup: 2010–11
FA Trophy runner-up: 2017–18
PFA Team of the Year: 2005–06 League Two, 2008–09 Championship