Essendon players will want to get on with playing rather than take their employer to court over the AFL club’s controversial program of injections in 2012, experts say.
But that doesn’t rule out future court action should they develop health problems linked to substances injected or others joining delisted player Hal Hunter in moving to sue the AFL and his former club.
While 34 current and former Essendon players were cleared of taking a banned substance, the exact detail of what substances were administered has still not been established.
David Galbally QC says players may not want to prejudice any future proceedings by taking immediate legal action, when they could only go after psychological damage at the moment.
“If they suffered physical damage like developing a cancer or a tumour that was able to be traced back say in 10 years time, 15 years time, because they’ve brought an action earlier they might have prejudiced their right to bring another one on the same set of facts,” Galbally told radio station SEN.
Victoria University senior law lecturer Matt Harvey said it would be a recipe for trouble if any of the vindicated Bombers still at the club sued their employer.
“I think they will now want to put it behind them and get on with playing,” he told AAP on Wednesday.
Harvey said it would be harder to bring a legal action given the players had been exonerated.
It was also hard to determine what damage they’d suffered, although delisted players have nothing to lose.
“Of course there’s been the uncertainty hanging over them for all this time, but really because there haven’t been any suspensions imposed it’s hard to show what they’ve lost,” he Harvey said.
“But that won’t prevent them having a try. I would expect some other delisted players to also consider taking action.”
Essendon would probably want to settle any legal action, Harvey said.
Bombers captain Jobe Watson on Tuesday said he hadn’t thought about compensation but the players were concerned and within their rights to be angry that their employer couldn’t tell them exactly what went on.
Dr Tom Heenan from Monash University’s National Centre for Australian Studies said the players were the real victims but it was unlikely – though possible – they would take the club to court.
“The evidence to support any claim that they were given anything that was harmful would seem to be highly unlikely given that nobody knows what they received in the first place.”