Clarets goalie drops damages claim

Alex Cisak (centre)
Alex Cisak (centre)

A professional goalkeeper who claimed a surgeon’s negligence left him training effectively one-handed has dropped his “hopeless” six-figure damages claim.

Alex Cisak was a 19-year-old Leicester City youth prospect when he suffered an injury to his right wrist during a warm-up session in early 2009.

Now with Burnley, the 24-year-old said shoddy treatment caused ongoing problems and left him still struggling four years later.

Blaming Leicester Hospital surgeon, Bhaskar Bhowal, he said he can make only a couple of saves in training before the pain in his wrist causes him to start letting balls past him.

At the High Court, he claimed massive damages from the surgeon, alleging negligence, but today dropped the case described as “hopeless” by a senior judge.

After two days of evidence from the surgeon, Mr Cisak and medical expert, Roger Helm, the Polish-born Australia youth international decided to drop his case and head back to his club.

Mr Cisak’s central allegation had been that the surgeon was wrong to tell him he could go back to contact sport in May 2009 when the fracture was only 80% healed.

However, there was evidence before the court that that was in line with a study performed by respected experts.

Mr Justice Phillips said: “In my judgment, this allegation was hopeless from the start and should not have been brought, such that it takes the matter completely out of the ordinary.”

Earlier this week, Mr Cisak said he could train normally until Burnley’s strikers start firing shots at him and the pain sets in.

“If I get pain in my wrist, I start leaving balls, which obviously isn’t very good for a goalkeeper,” he told the High Court.

“I’m taking painkillers. I’m training at 75% of what I should be at. It has affected me.

“It has also affected me mentally, because I am pulling out of shots. It is harming my development because I can’t fully train.

“I think that’s had an effect on my career.”

Whereas he had been with Leicester, he had to drop down to the lower leagues with Accrington Stanley and Oldham Athletic and has only this summer returned to the Championship with Burnley, the court heard.

But the surgeon’s barrister, John Whitting QC, today said that Mr Cisak’s case was always doomed to fail.

“The court had the opportunity to see Mr Bhowal and evaluate him as a surgeon and an individual,” he said.

“He was obviously an honest, conscientious surgeon, doing his best for his patients.

“He has had the shadow of allegations of professional negligence hanging over him for just under two years now.”

Describing the goalie’s claim as “hopeless,” he added: “It is far from clear that he has suffered any impairment of function to his playing ability.”

The court had previously heard that Mr Cisak earned a clean sheet and “rave reviews” on his only start for his new club this season.

The stopper said all of his saves in that match were with his left hand, but Mr Whitting said: “It is difficult to see how a goalkeeper playing at an extremely high level can get rave reviews if he could only use one arm.”

He had been told by Mr Bhowal’s lawyers from the outset that his case could not succeed and had only “come to his senses” last night, Mr Whitting said.

Having accepted Mr Cisak’s “discontinuance” of his claim, the judge ordered that he pick up the surgeon’s considerable costs of defending the action.

A large proportion of the costs are to be paid on the punitive “indemnity” basis.

Mr Cisak should have dropped his claims against Mr Bhowal much earlier, said the judge.

Neither the player nor the surgeon were in court today.