WWE Sued by Former Wrestlers Over Brain Injuries
Two dozen former professional wrestlers have filed a class action lawsuit against the WWE in a Connecticut federal court. They claim the Stamford-based company misrepresented and concealed the longterm effects of neurological injuries and failed to provide treatment for such injuries “in any medically competent or meaningful manner.”
“The WWE knows that its wrestlers including the plaintiffs are at great risk for these diseases such as CTE that can result in suicide, drug abuse and violent behavior that pose a danger to not only the athletes themselves but their families and community, yet the WWE does nothing to warn, educate or provide treatment to them,” the wrestlers said in the lawsuit. Instead the WWE “placed corporate gain over its wrestlers’ health, safety and financial security, choosing to leave the plaintiffs severely injured and with no recourse to treat their damaged minds and bodies.”
At this point it is not clear whether the WWE deliberately ignored “medically important and possibly lifesaving information” during the careers of the wrestlers named in the lawsuit. But it is clear the WWE is not ignoring that life-saving information now. In February, WWE superstar Daniel Bryant announced his retirement after WWE doctors refused to give him clearance to return to the ring.
However, even if the court finds that the WWE did not deliberately hide information about the nature of long-term brain injuries, the WWE could get in trouble for utilizing a shady employment loophole. Specifically, the WWE classifies wrestlers as “independent contractors” so they don’t have to provide medical benefits.
“[Wrestlers] completely fall through the safety net,” says attorney Daniel Wallach, a sports law expert who spoke to Bloomberg. “They’re in worse shape than retired professional football players or retired hockey players. They’re the most disposable athletes in the sports and entertainment business.”
The WWE has dismissed the lawsuit as a blatant cash-grab by a greedy lawyer.
“This is another ridiculous attempt by the same attorney who has previously filed class action lawsuits against WWE, both of which have been dismissed,” the company said in a statement. “A federal judge has already found that this lawyer made patently false allegations about WWE, and this is more of the same.”
Stay tuned. This could get interesting.
Hat Tip – [Bloomberg]