Rugby player successfully sues heavier opponent for £10 million after belly flop paralysed her
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A rugby player who was left paralysed after she was crushed by a bigger opponent has won a huge settlement.
Dani Czernuszka suffered horrific and life-changing injuries when Natasha King crashed into her in an act of 'revenge', a court heard.
The horror tackle happened during a match between Ms King's Redingensians RFC and Berkshire rivals Bracknell Ladies back in 2017.
According to the High Court hearing, Ms Czernuszka was crouching down on the field, waiting for the ball, when Ms King smashed into her.
The court heard that Ms King took hold of her thigh and 'exerted her full weight downwards onto the head and back of the claimant in the manner of a "belly flop" such that her full weight pressed down heavily on the claimant’s spine'.
The 34-year-old's spine was snapped as a result of the collision, leaving her needing a wheelchair.
Ms Czernuszka went on to sue Ms King for £10 million.
During the case, Ms Czernuszka claimed that there was a clear size difference between her and Ms King, who she says was out for 'revenge' that day.
The mum told the court that a 'beef' had started between the pair following an earlier tackle, where Ms King had come off worse, and she later overheard Ms King saying: "That f**king number seven, I’m going to break her."
Representing her, Robert Weir KC said: "The claimant was thereby pinned in a bent over position by the actions of the first defendant.
"She sustained an immediate severe spinal fracture and spinal cord injury as a direct result of this tackle."
While he accepted that Ms King had not set out to badly injure his client, he said she was reckless and 'threw her weight around' on the pitch.
Defending herself against the allegations, Ms King told the court that she was not that kind of person.
"I don’t play rugby for revenge," she said.
While her barrister Geoffrey Brown added: "It was a rugby injury, arising through the risks inherent in playing the game, not through any fault on the part of Ms King."
However, despite this, the judge ruled in favour of Ms Czernuszka.
The judge said that it was clear Ms King had gone out to hurt her opponent that day, which led to her sustaining life-changing injuries.
"I have no doubt that the defendant did, as the claimant said, utter the words, 'That f**king number 7, I’m going to break her'," the judge said.
"Thereafter, she was looking for an opportunity to get her revenge on the claimant, the red mist had metaphorically descended over the defendant’s eyes.
"That opportunity came about three minutes later when, after a ruck, the claimant took up the position of acting scrum-half, and bent down to pick up the ball.
"She drove the claimant backwards and, importantly, downwards using her full weight and strength to crush the claimant in a manoeuvre which was obviously dangerous and liable to cause injury.
"I therefore find that in this very unusual and exceptional context...the defendant is liable to the claimant for the injuries which the claimant sustained, and there shall be judgment for the claimant."