Former Olympic champion Eric Lamaze maintains he’s had cancer despite judge’s doubts

  • Former Olympic showjumping champion Eric Lamaze maintains he has had cancer, and has few years left to live, after a judge questioned the reliability of his claims.

    Justice Marvin Kurz published endorsements, on 14 August and 5 September, in a case involving Iron Horse Farm and Torrey Pines Stable, the home of Eric, and Eric himself. Iron Horse brought two breach-of-contract actions, now joined to be tried together, regarding the sale of three horses. Eric and Torrey Pines deny the allegations.

    In his first endorsement, the judge stated that Eric and Torrey Pines brought a motion asking to adjourn the trial. Justice Kurz said he did not proceed, partly “because of questions regarding the true state of Mr Lamaze’s health; the ostensible reason for the request”.

    Eric’s notice of the motion stated: “Eric Lamaze, (Torrey Pines) has been battling brain cancer for a number of years, which has now spread to his throat. Provided that his vitals are stable, Mr Lamaze is scheduled to undergo a further surgery on or about July 11.” Eric told H&H this cancer and surgery are fact, as is his brain tumour, and that he has been treated by multiple doctors in different countries.

    Eric’s lawyer filed a statement stating that the rider was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2017 and competed until 2021, retiring last March.

    Jerome Morse, for Iron Horse, did not accept the representations about Eric’s health; “in light of the fact Mr Lamaze made similar claims in early 2019, in hopes of adjourning his discovery. But he was found to have been successfully involved in equestrian events in Florida, on March 13, 14 and 16, 2019”, the judge said.

    Justice Kurz’s first endorsement states that on 25 July, Eric’s lawyer sent Mr Morse a medical report dated 5 April.

    He said this “raised suspicions” including over the languages spoken by the doctor it was purportedly written by, an incorrect address and a prognosis given.

    The judge said Eric’s lawyer Tim Danson produced another report under the Chirec Cancer Institute letterhead, “undated and contained an illegible signature”, which raised more suspicions. He said the report said Eric was “a patient under my direct care”, and that Eric had been “under our care” since he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2017.

    On 9 August, Mr Danson produced a report “ostensibly from a doctor at the Chirec Cancer Institute, provided to him by a representative of Mr Lamaze”, the judge said, adding that the author of the report was identified as Dr Benoît Pirotte, a neurosurgeon at Chirec.

    The judge said this added that Eric had also been diagnosed with throat cancer, and more surgery would be needed. It said Eric was very ill and weak.

    Mr Morse’s colleague, David Trafford, said in a statement that Iron Horse had used a Belgian investigator. The detective’s reports state that he met Dr Oulad Ben Taib, who said the signature on “his” report was not his and that he does not speak Dutch. The investigator’s report said he spoke to an employee of the hospital’s legal department who said the “‘documents of Dr Oulad Ben Taib and Dr Benoît Pirotte are forged’.”

    “[She] referred to the two alleged reports as ‘fraudulent acts’,” the judge said. “In light of the information set out above, I find that there are no grounds to adjourn the trial. I cannot find any of the evidence Mr Lamaze relies upon in requesting a trial adjournment to be either credible or reliable.”

    Justice Kurz dismissed Eric’s request for adjournment. His 5 September endorsement read: “The plaintiffs… argue that Mr Lamaze attempted to perpetrate a fraud on the court by filing three forged letters, which falsely purport to be medical reports regarding Mr Lamaze’s dire medical condition. Mr Morse argues that if that fraud were not sufficiently egregious, Mr Lamaze feigned end-stage cancer, which is an insult to all who have suffered from that dreaded malady. He did so only to avoid a ‘day of reckoning’.”

    The endorsement concluded: “The defendants shall pay the costs of $32,400 by September 29, failing which their pleadings will be struck.”

    In a phone call, Eric Lamaze told H&H how ill he had been; he cited going to the 2018 World Equestrian Games, adding: “I should never have been there. It was 105°F but I was freezing, throwing up and seeing double, the ground was moving. They gave me not long to live.”

    Eric said he contemplated suicide owing to the questioning of his health and that although the cancer is now in remission, he said he has been given two to three years to live, as his body was badly affected by the chemotherapy and his organs are failing.

    “When you’ve been so sick and someone says you’re faking it – you have no idea,” he said. “They want a doctor’s note; have they seen me? People were telling me to go home, every day for years, as I was so sick. People who have never seen me and don’t know, believe what they see online. I’ve always spoken the truth and will continue to.”

    Eric talked of riding after his diagnosis but being unable to remember courses, and needing minutes to regain his balance after dismounting.

    He says he was unaware of letters and documents submitted to the court and is taking legal advice on how this came about; he said he has suspicions. He cited issues such as data protection relating to his medical records, and the need to protect people who have treated him.

    “It almost seems like if I’d died, people would have been happy,” he said. “But I didn’t.”

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