Johnson suing renowned knee surgeon for £1m over 'negligent' treatment

Johnson was injured during training with Charlton in 2017

Johnson was injured during training with Charlton in 2017

FORMER Premier League defender Roger Johnson is suing the renowned knee surgeon Andy Williams for £1m, claiming that a procedure he carried out in 2017 ended his professional playing career.

Williams is regarded as one of the world’s foremost knee and ACL surgeons and has operated on footballers including Virgil van Dijk, Danny Ings and Callum Wilson.

Johnson, 38, suffered a meniscus tear to his left knee during a training session with Charlton Athletic in January 2017. He had an operation at Williams’ Fortius Clinic in London a few days later but, after an infection, required further surgery in March.

Following this procedure, Johnson suffered complications and has claimed that Williams’ surgery damaged a tendon, resulting in continued swelling and pain.

The player was released by Charlton a few months after the second operation. Although he went on to make 51 appearances for Bromley in the National League over the next two seasons, he left them in the summer of 2019 and retired from playing aged 36. He is now first-team coach for the Kent side.

Documents submitted to London’s High Court show that Johnson is suing the surgeon for £1m, although a further claim against the clinic has now been dropped.

The former player claimed that Williams had failed to recognise the damage caused by the surgery, or did not tell him, and that his treatment was “negligent”. Williams has in turn denied these allegations and said that any complications following the surgery were a result of Johnson’s knee becoming infected following the initial surgery.

There is also contention over whether Williams gave the all-clear to Johnson to go on holiday to Thailand while he was recovering from the first surgery. Williams said the trip “inevitably carried risk”, but Johnson has countered that the surgeon was happy t for him to go and that the knee worsened while he was overseas.

“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,” the court papers read.

“The claimant has been unable to continue his career as a professional footballer and has attempted to pursue a career in football coaching and this remains guarded together with a limited career undertaking media and related work.”

Johnson has said he suffers from continuing swelling and pain and is also experiencing anxiety, distress and depression.

“As a result of the failures following surgery (Johnson) has suffered from increased distress and anxiety in not knowing the real cause of his suffering from significant continuing swelling and pain, which was preventing (Johnson) from returning to professional football and ultimately ending his career, but pursuing his treatment upon the basis that he had suffered some very unusual complication that was hard to explain.”

Williams' team have denied that the second surgery caused the alleged damage, or that Williams failed to recognise any damage.

“No damage was caused during surgery but rather arose thereafter from a weakening of the retinaculum (a fibrous band around the tendons) by the previous infection and the claimant’s behaviour in terms of mobility and rehabilitation.”

UPDATE (June 21st 2022): Johnson lost his High Court damages claim against the knee specialist.

Judge Jeremy Hyam QC said there was not enough evidence to conclude that the defect in Johnson’s knee had been caused by the surgeon.

“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 17 March 2017 in the course of the synovectomy procedure,” he said.

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