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'Hitman' sues Lloyd's
Bret Hart hoping to hold insurer to $2.2M for career-ending ring injury

By BILL LAYE -- Calgary Sun


Bret "Hitman" Hart is hoping to pin insurers Lloyd's of London to the mat for $2.2 million in damages the wrestler says the company owes him for a career-ending ring injury.

In the suit, he's claiming more than $1.2 million in unpaid disability benefits plus $1 million more in punitive damages.

In 2000, specialists in Montreal told Hart, whose career exceeded 20 years and included World Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Federation and tag-team champion titles, his wrestling days were through.

A statement of claim was filed in Calgary Court of Queen's Bench last week, stemming from the insurance claim Hart made to Lloyd's after he suffered the concussion in a Dec. 19, 1999, World Championship Wrestling bout in Baltimore.

According to the statement of claim, Hart received a "severe and violent" mule-kick to the head by Bill Goldberg, which eventually forced the star grappler into retirement.

Hart apparently bears Goldberg no ill will, concluding the kick was accidental and, instead, blamed wrestling promoters of the day for his injury by forcing inexperienced wrestlers, like Goldberg, to fight before they're ready.

Statements of claim contain allegations yet to be proven in court.

Speaking through an Edmonton lawyer, Lloyd's maintained it is not denying Hart's claim and the company remains committed to the highest of ethical and business standards.

But Brian Vail said the company has yet to determine if Hart's claim will be granted.

"(Lloyd's) have not finished the investigation," he said yesterday from Edmonton.

He said if Lloyd's decides the claim isn't valid, it will fight the suit.

Lloyd's, which has been in business since the 17th century, relies on more than 30,000 independent underwriters the company calls Names -- mostly private individuals -- who provide the cash backing for coverage.

If nothing goes wrong, these investors earn annual dividends from the insurance premiums, but in some cases -- like the claims coming out of the 9/11 attacks -- they can lose their whole investment and personally be on the hook for a share of the overall loss.

Hart, who writes a regular column in the Sun, has been advised by his Calgary-based lawyer Kenneth Staroszik not to comment on the case while it's before the courts.