Former Wrestler’s Widow Urges Court to Continue Wrongful Death Suit Against WWE
Nelson Frazier, Jr.’s widow filed a response brief to World Wrestling Entertainment’s motion to dismiss on Wednesday January 6, 2016, arguing that her complaint sufficiently claims the wrestling body concealed the potential risks of head injuries from their entertainers, which led to her husband’s death.
The WWE made a motion to dismiss in December, claiming that Frazier’s widow — who originally filed suit against them in February 2015, asserting a wrongful death action, amongst other things — failed to sufficiently explain a causal connection between the wrestler’s 2014 death from a heart attack and his wrestling career. The WWE claimed that the ex-performer struggled with weight issues throughout his life, and his excessive obesity was the cause of death, not any injury he sustained during his stint under contract. Further, the WWE argued Mrs. Frazier’s wrongful death action was time-barred as a matter of law, as a five year statute of limitations existed for her to bring a claim, which began in 2008, the last year her husband wrestled for the company.
But like other concussion/head trauma suits filed against the wrestling body, Frazier’s widow argues that the WWE contributed to her husband’s death by promoting him to endure numerous and repeated blows to the head and failed to warn him of the dangers of head trauma, as well as encouraging him to undergo an unhealthy lifestyle during his career.
The response brief alleges that the WWE created Frazier’s character, described as an overly obese fighter who excessively indulged in food and other negative lifestyle choices, promoting the character to the point where Frazier need to keep the persona up or risk losing his position with the company. In order to keep the character’s image intact, Frazier was discouraged by the WWE to take care of his body, which caused him tremendous suffering in his post-wrestling years and led to his untimely death, the brief argues.
Mrs. Frazier’s brief also fights back against the time-barred argument made by the WWE, stating that the five year statute of limitations did not begin to run until Frazier’s time of death, when the “actionable harm” — the WWE’s culpability — was discovered.
The plaintiff in the suit is represented by the same attorney in a concussion class action lawsuit filed by numerous former wrestlers against the WWE. That representation has come under fire in recent months, where the WWE filed a request for sanctions with the Connecticut District Court, alleging that attorney Konstantine Kyros is guilty of improper court actions and forum shopping intended to harass the defendant in order to seek an early settlement in the case. The concussion lawsuit is expected to be a major case to follow throughout the new year.