A female rugby player who sued an opponent for £10 million after she was left permanently paralysed by a ‘revenge tackle’, that left her with a permanent spinal injury, has won a compensation case at the High Court, a verdict which sets a precedent for sporting injury claims.-.
Dani Czernuszka, 34, had her spine broken after a tackled by ‘angry’ opponent Natasha King during a league match between Reading Sirens and Bracknell Ladies back in 2017.
The ‘slightly-built’ personal trainer claimed to have been threatened by her ‘much-heavier’ opponent earlier in the game, and was told she was ‘going to break me’ after the pair clashed during the match near Reading.
She accused Ms King – who has an ‘intimidating’ reputation – was bent on ‘retribution’ when she poleaxed her by ‘belly flopping’ on her during a rolling scrum.
In legal first, Mr Justice Martin Spencer who ruled in favour of Ms Czernuszka, said that, in executing the tackle, Ms King had been ‘intent only on exacting revenge’ because she was angry at how the game had played out.
‘This was a reckless and dangerous act and fell below an acceptable standard of fair play,’ he said.
‘I do find…that the “tackle” was executed with reckless disregard for the claimant’s safety in a manner which was liable to cause injury and that the defendant was so angry by this time that she closed her eyes to the risk to which she was subjecting the claimant, a risk of injury which was clear and obvious’.
Following the judgement, Ms Czernuszka, said: “I am grateful for today’s ruling and to finally put to bed all of the untruths and fabrications surrounding what happened during the game that day.
“Learning to live with my life-changing injuries has been difficult and something I could not have done without the support of my family and close friends.
Her solicitor Damian Horan said: “This case is a timely reminder that a player’s actions on the pitch never stay on the pitch and can have catastrophic consequences.”
Ms King has 21 days to seek permission to appeal the verdict.