WWE Rings the Bell Again, Asks Judge to Throw More Brain-Injury Claims Out
On Thursday, September 8, 2016, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. requested that a Connecticut federal judge preemptively disallow four former professional wrestlers from bringing any claims relating to brain injuries spawning from their times working to the entertainment company. According to the WWE, the latest round of ex-pro wrestlers can’t bring such claims because they are timebarred. Connecticut has a three year statute of limitations for any general tort claim; as well, it recognizes a two year statutory time period for potential plaintiffs to bring suit for negligence or misconduct, starting from the date of injury or the date the injury should have reasonably been discovered.
The WWE, in its Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed Thursday, argues that the four former wrestlers last worked for the company in the 1980s and 90s, and therefore have long missed the statutory period to file suit. Further, the company states that these wrestlers hadn’t complained of any potential brain injuries — or any injuries in general — until letters written from their respective attorneys were received by the WWE in 2015. Throughout much of 2015 and 2016, the WWE was fending off a host of other lawsuits relating to brain injuries and cognitive disorders suffered by former wrestlers as a result of their employment with the company. In March 2016, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant, overseeing the class action lawsuits against the WWE after they were consolidated in Connecticut as one suit, threw out the majority of claims that allege the company knew of and actively concealed the long term neurological risks of concussions and other head-related injuries in pro wrestling from its wrestlers.
The WWE is seeking a declaratory judgment against this latest group of former wrestlers, arguing the prior dismissal should preemptively block the wrestlers from bringing substantially similar claims that have already been ruled as time barred. The declaratory action was originally filed in June 2015, but has taken on new form in light of Judge Bryant’s multiple rulings in favor of the WWE throughout 2016.