Ex-Wrestlers Try Again at WWE Head Trauma Suit
On November 3, 2017, former World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) wrestlers filed an amended complaint for their concussion suit against WWE. The amended complaint is in response to a Connecticut federal judge allowing the wrestlers last month to file more succinct pleadings, despite stating she was more inclined to side with WWE. The case goes back to 2015 when WWE faced several lawsuits that alleged WWE concealed long-term health risks of repeated blows to the head and increased that danger by misleading injured wrestlers into performing. Six cases brought by wrestlers were consolidated in Connecticut, with the Laurinaitis case as the most recent addition in September 2016.
The ex-wrestlers alleged that WWE routinely failed to care for their repetitive head injuries in any medically competent way throughout their careers. Further alleged is that the wrestling moves that lead to the accumulated effects of head trauma are an inevitable outcome of correctly performed WWE choreography and maneuvers. The former wrestlers specifically noted that their head injuries are a direct result of WWE’s actions because the matches and maneuvers are controlled, scripted, directed, and choreographed by WWE. The complaint alleged 16 causes of action, including alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The amended complaint alleged WWE downplayed head injuries compared to other injuries and did not establish protocols to prevent head trauma. The wrestlers also alleged they were mischaracterized by WWE as independent contractors instead of employees, which denied them benefits and compensation they would be entitled to as employees.
Back in October, Judge Vanessa L. Bryant stated she would not allow WWE’s motion to dismiss due to “an abundance of deference” to the wrestlers. The Judge called the plaintiff’s complaint unnecessarily long and containing an overwhelming number of irrelevant allegations. Additionally, the Judge stated the wrestlers’ attorney, Konstantine W. Kyros, filed a long answer to WWE’s complaint, but did not address the assertion that the claims were barred from wrestlers who stopped performing prior to 2005. In response to the amended complaint, WWE made a statement that Kyros has repeatedly presented false and misleading information to the court and that no medical report was included with the amended complaint. WWE stated it would respond appropriately after it has the opportunity to review medical reports. However, in a blog, Kyros wrote five of the plaintiffs had postmortem neuropathology studies that reflected a diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The former wrestlers will have to wait and see if the 225-page amended complaint will keep the case in court.