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Surf champ suing Survivor Australia producers over injury from horror accident on set

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A champion big wave surfer who starred in a recent season of reality television juggernaut Survivor is suing over a horror accident that he says caused a debilitating injury.

Ross Clarke-Jones is claiming damages for medical expenses and the loss of past and future earnings as a result of snapping his ankle, filing a suit in the Victorian Supreme Court last week.

Clarke-Jones, represented by the law firm Arnold Thomas & Becker, was taking part in a challenge where he and other contestants had to swing on a rope above the ground, from one platform to another.

He was the third to attempt it and as he did, the rope snapped.

The 53-year-old fell to ground, suffering what his statement of claim described as a “syndesmosis disruption” to his right ankle as well as severe bruising and lacerations to his left leg.

The syndesmosis is a joint held together by ligaments in the ankle, and Clarke-Jones effectively snapped his.

RELATED: Freak accident on Survivor Australia sees Ross Clarke-Jones exit competition

“At the date of injury, the plaintiff was a professional big wave surfer with sponsorship arrangements, including with Red Bull and Quiksilver,” the statement of claim, obtained by news.com.au, reads.

“The plaintiff is and has been since his injury totally incapacitated for his previous employment and claims past loss of earning and future loss of earnings.”

The accident occurred on May 30 last year, part way through filming of the Champions v Contenders instalment of the hit Channel 10 series, on location in Fiji.

His suit claims producers Endemol Shine Australia were negligent and breached their duty of care in several areas, including failing to secure the rope adequately, splicing it unsafely or incorrectly and not testing the challenge properly.

Clarke-Jones’ suit further claims that producers failed to “have any or any adequate regard to the safety of the plaintiff having regard to the magnitude of the risk if the rope was not adequately secured to the structure”.

After his injury, Clarke-Jones was forced out of the competition, which had a major cash prize of $500,000 on offer.

As well as lost earnings, he’s also suing for the lost potential of winning that prize. “The plaintiff also claims loss of opportunity in relation to competing for the prize money available on Survivor, and other professional big wave surfing-related events, awards and business opportunities,” the statement of claim said.

It said he has also suffered depression and anxiety as a result of his ongoing injury.

Once back in Australia, Clarke-Jones told TV WEEK magazine that he’d been forced to endure multiple procedures as part of his painful recovery.

“I’ve been to a couple of physio appointments, I’ve had an operation,” he said.

“It’s a long road ahead still, I won’t be surfing for another four to six months. This is the hardest thing to do, surfing is my livelihood, so I can’t do anything, it’s horrible.”

Endemol Shine Australia was contacted for comment for this story but declined to comment.

But at the time the series aired, the production company described the accident as being a result of a “technical fault”.

“Endemol Shine Australia takes the health and safety of our Survivor contestants very seriously,” a statement issued to news.com.au last year read.

“Challenges are conducted under safety supervision and tested numerous times to avoid injuries. Contestants also have constant medical care from the series doctor and paramedics.

“Unfortunately during a challenge, there was a technical fault and Ross suffered ankle ligament disruption. He was given immediate medical attention onsite and taken to hospital for further checks.”

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