"I would have been working John Cena at WrestleMania, if it weren't for those pesky Tampa doctors!" - Photo courtesy of ImpactWrestling.com
Hulk Hogan is back in the news for filing ambitious lawsuits again. This time he's suing the Laser Spine Institute in Tampa for $50 million in damages for unnecessary surgeries that he claims prevented him from wrestling John Cena in a WWE dream match.
Even though he has not yet completely given up on the dream of wrestling another match one day, Hulk Hogan should never compete in the squared circle ever again.
The main reason, is that his back is completely shot -- meaning that it's unadvisable for him to take even one more bump in the ring. He's had a wide variety of surgeries and treatments involving lasers, removing pieces of bone, trimming discs, radio frequency ablation and the insertion of a spinal cord stimulator, but none of them relieved his pain for any considerable length of time. Eventually, he was forced to take back-fusion surgery in December 2010, which was thought to be career-ending at the time.
But Hogan somehow managed to headline next year's TNA Bound For Glory pay-per-view on his absolutely mangled spine in a respectable losing effort to Sting.
This leads us to today's lawsuit from the litigation-happy Hulkster. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Hogan has sued the local Laser Spine Institute for medical malpractice and is seeking a whopping $50 million in damages. He's claiming that the clinic's medical procedures on his back were both harmful and useless, consequently damaging him in the pocket book too.
The legal arguments were summarised by the newspaper as follows:
"A prepared statement from [Terry] Bollea's attorneys Wil Florin and Eric Czelusta says "negligent conduct" on the part of Laser Spine Institute resulted in "a provable loss of past and future income of ($50 million) during the last chapter of an internationally successful athletic and entertainment career," for Bollea.
It says "numerous prominent spine surgeons" recommended traditional spinal surgery for Bollea, but that the Spine Institute told him that would effectively end his career. Now, the lawsuit claims Bollea was "the victim of multiple unnecessary endoscopic surgical procedures that further destabilized his already existing injured back."
Florin said the Spine Institute's treatments not only delayed Bollea from getting proper treatment, but also damaged his back. He said prominent physicians believe this amounted to negligence on the Spine Institute's part."
The lawsuit also alleges that the institute used Hogan as a celebrity endorser without permission or payment.
Like the sex tape litigation against Gawker.com, this seems like another uphill legal battle for the Hulkster. Looking for a quick fix, Hogan himself decided to ignore the majority opinion of specialists in the field, instead opting for the more experimental techniques of a local doctor. No-one pointed a gun to his head to make such a foolish, shortsighted decision.
It's a very similar story to Kurt Angle, who opted for the minimally invasive "reconstructive" surgery of Pittsburgh's Dr. Hae-Dong Jho over the more traditional spinal fusion method of Dr. Lloyd Youngblood, when he broke his neck in February 2003, which led to further operations shortly thereafter and eventually a terrible painkiller problem. Like with Angle, the surgeries proposed by the Laser Spine Institute could very well be a reasonable alternative for the average person, but not one for a crippled old wrestler wanting to prolong his career, something they may not have known until testing them out on Hogan.
The damages Hogan is claiming are ridiculously exorbitant too. In the past three years he's still made a sizeable salary working for TNA, and being able to wrestle wouldn't have added much to his pension pot. Hell, an extra $50 million couldn't be earned from competing in wrestling matches if he wrestled till he was 100-years old!
An interesting theory, is that the timing of this latest lawsuit could be partly motivated by the latest developments in the Gawker case, where Hogan looks to be up shit creek without a paddle.
According to Dave Meltzer, his attempt to find a more favourable judge by dropping his federal case against Gawker and refiling it in Florida state court failed when the website was able to move the hearings back to federal court under the same judge as before, James D. Whittemore. Whittemore has already ruled against Hogan's lawyers on all of their motions so far and hasn't been swayed by any of their arguments yet, which suggests that the Hulkster will win little or no money at all from his legal actions against Gawker.
Hogan seems to be taking that old adage to heart: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." But in his case, I don't think perseverance will pay off.
P.S. The Tampa Bay Times has since updated their original story to include a claim by Hogan's lawyer Wil Florin that, "Laser Spine's treatment delayed his return to the ring and kept him from a lucrative match with top-draw John Cena". There's also additional quotes from two spinal surgeons critical of the Laser Spine Institute's diagnostic skills, marketing tactics and medical procedures.