Hulk Hogan sues clinic for $50M over back treatment

Terry G. Bollea, better known as the professional wrestler and reality TV star Hulk Hogan, is suing Laser Spine Institute, a chain of for-profit, high-volume, doctor-owned surgery centers. Bollea is suing for medical malpractice and is seeking $50 million in damages for lost work opportunities during the 19 months he was a patient at Laser Spine Institute.

Bollea also alleges the company used his name without his permission. His lawyer also ordered the institute to cease using Bollea's likeness. While a patient at the institute, Bollea signed a photo of himself for an employee there as a personal favor. The words he wrote on that photo were later used by Laser Spine Institute in a marketing brochure.

After reading a Bloomberg News report containing complaints that services performed at the center are expensive and ineffective, Bollea came to believe the surgeries he received at Laser Spine may have been unnecessary or performed negligently. He further was unaware that the doctor who urged him to have procedures performed at the center had a significant ownership interest in the business. He later learned his insurance company was billed for six-figure sums on multiple occasions.

Although he initially intended to pursue traditional back surgery at a local hospital, at a friend's urging, he walked into Laser Spine Institute and was persuaded to undergo less invasive measures at the outpatient center. However, after undergoing six procedures over 19 months he realized the procedures only provided short-term relief lasting about two to three weeks.

Bollea later opted for traditional fusion surgery and was able to return to his normal professional activities three months later.

Source: Bloomberg, "Hulk Hogan Wrestles With Laser Spine Center in Lawsuit," David Armstrong, Jan. 14, 2013