Calgary plastic surgeon files defence statement in wrestler Bret Hart's lawsuit

A plastic surgeon in Calgary is denying that he was negligent when he operated on former wrestler Bret Hart's wrist.
Bret (Hitman) Hart is suing a Calgary surgeon alleging a botched wrist surgery has left him in pain and kept him from being able to perform everyday tasks. (Mike Symington/CBC)

A plastic surgeon is denying that he was negligent when he operated on former wrestler Bret Hart's wrist.

Hart is alleging he lost the use of his right index finger and thumb after the surgery in 2015, has severe and ongoing pain in his wrist and a decreased range of motion.

The legendary grappler, who was known as The Hitman, filed the lawsuit against Dr. Justin Yeung in November 2017.

It says that Hart is unable to use his right hand to pick up and use objects, including pens and utensils, and is unable to properly dress himself without assistance.

The lawsuit alleges Yeung was negligent and failed to advise Hart of the risks involved.

Yeung says in a statement of defence that he provided an acceptable level of care during surgery and afterward.

"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," reads the statement of defence.

"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."

Hart's statement of claim alleges he hurt his wrist during a match in 1981 and the injury gradually worsened, so he visited Yeung in September 2015.

"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 says.

It says Yeung advised Hart that he would have no pain in his wrist and movement would be restored.

The surgery was performed in November 2015. The claim says that Hart told Yeung during a checkup in January 2016 that he had severe pain in his wrist and "his right thumb and index finger did not function."

'Complaints were ignored'

The problem persisted until a followup visit in March, the statement says, and "Mr. Hart's complaints were ignored."

Yeung says the surgery was uneventful and he took measures to address Hart's concerns as they arose.

"Dr. Yeung ordered all appropriate investigations to address Hart's post-operative concerns, including diagnostic imaging, urgent electrodiagnostic assessments, electrophysiologic evaluations and nerve conduction studies," says the surgeon's defence statement.

"Contrary to the allegations ... Dr. Yeung made appropriate referrals to investigate all of Hart's concerns, including to physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, a neurosurgeon and a neurologist."

Hart, 62, was born into a wrestling family led by his father, Stu Hart, founder of Calgary's Stampede Wrestling.

Bret Hart made his in-ring debut in 1978 and took part in nearly 3,000 matches before his retirement.

He also gained championship success throughout the 1980s and '90s in what was then the World Wrestling Federation, where he lead The Hart Foundation tag team with his brother-in-law Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart.

He has had serious health issues, including a significant stroke in 2002 that left him partially paralyzed. He recovered successfully and also underwent surgery for prostate cancer.


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