Ex-Brown suing team doctor, clinic

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 17, 2003

CLEVELAND -- Former Cleveland Browns running back Errict Rhett is suing the team doctor and the Cleveland Clinic for what he claims was misdiagnosis of the foot injury that ended his career in 2001.

Rhett signed a three-year, $6 million contract with the Browns in 2000, but broke his foot in a game against Baltimore. He underwent surgery and attempted to return in 2001.

Dr. John Bergfeld, a team doctor affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic, did not perform the surgery, but cleared Rhett to play in July 2001. Two days later, Rhett was cut by the team. He has not played since.

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In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Rhett argues that his foot was not completely healed, and he needed at least two additional months of recovery time.

League rules require teams to pay players who are on injured reserve. They cannot be cut until they return to active status.

Rhett's suit charge that Bergfeld cleared him to play so the team could cut him. Rhett said other doctors who examined his foot concluded he should not have been cleared to return.

The lawsuit seeks at least $25,000 in damages.

Browns spokesman Todd Stewart said the team does not comment on medical issues. Bergfeld did not return a message requesting comment on the suit.