FORMER Newcastle Knights player James McManus's proposed amended statement of claim in a landmark concussion lawsuit against his club fails to clearly indicate how the Knights have breached their duty of care, a NSW Supreme Court judge said.
Justice Ian Harrison has given McManus's legal team 21 days to answer Knights questions, after describing the amended statement of claim as an "extremely curious document" that fails "other than in a discursive and anecdotal way" to detail how the club breached a duty of care to the player.
McManus argued the Knights failed to exercise reasonable care not to expose him to the adverse effects of concussive injuries. The former NSW winger is seeking damages after claiming the Knights should have forced him into retirement. He alleges their failure to do so caused him permanent brain damage.
The proposed amended statement of claim, raised by McManus nearly three years after his original claim was lodged in December, 2016, "conspicuously fails" to detail the material facts necessary to allow the Knights to "know the claim it is expected to meet", Justice Harrison said in a decision on Monday.
The Supreme Court on Friday was told McManus's case will focus on more than half a dozen incidents from games where he was "stumbling around", after his legal team subpoenaed video evidence.
The Knights opposed the amended statement of claim and requested "extensive" particulars from McManus in a letter in response, saying the club was "surprised" his case was "certified as one having reasonable prospects of success" against the current Knights Rugby League Pty Ltd, or the previous entity that operated the club, Newcastle Knights Pty Ltd.
The club noted a reason given to support the amended statement of claim was a "baseline test" taken by McManus on March 5, 2014, indicating the current owner is alleged to be "the party responsible for the injuries and disabilities sustained" by McManus.
One of the questions McManus will have to answer is if the amended statement of claim will now require further evidence to support his claim, more than 12 months after McManus's lawyers served the Knights with expert evidence relating to the club's alleged liability.
Justice Harrison gave McManus 21 days to respond to the Knights' questions after McManus's lawyer said he would be in a position to file responses in a short timeframe.
Justice Harrison said that "on one view" the Knights' attitude to the proposed amended statement of claim was "exceedingly generous", given the "manifold defects" in the claim document and the "difficult position" in which the club was placed.
The document's "defects... might be capable of remedy, or at least amelioration if the requested particulars are provided", Justice Harrison said.
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