Following in the footsteps of NHL and NFL athletes before them, a group of former WWE wrestlers have filed suit against the organization alleging it concealed the effects of neurological injuries suffered through participation in WWE events.The suit was filed by dozens of former wrestlers, and some of the notable figures amongst the plaintiffs include: Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “The Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, and Chris “King Kong Bundy” Pallies.
The suit itself alleges multiple grievances with the WWE, stating the company placed financial gain ahead of any safety concerns for its wrestlers.
The WWE is accused in the lawsuit of failing to care for wrestlers’ repetitive head injuries “in any medically competent or meaningful manner” and misrepresenting and concealing the nature of long-term neurological injuries they suffered as a result of their careers.The lawsuit also lays out an interesting wrinkle that similar suits against the NHL and NFL cannot claim. Since the WWE is a scripted entertainment show, and all of the moves and outcomes are preplanned and choreographed, the company essentially controlled and organized the brain injuries suffered by its employees. Moves like the “body slam” and now-banned “piledriver” exposed wrestlers to head trauma and were not just a symptom of the sport, but a premeditated action orchestrated by the WWE.
The former wrestlers also claim the WWE hid the potential negative effects of these actions from them. Legal expert Daniel Wallach said the wrestlers are in an even worse spot than their professional hockey and football counterparts.
“These wrestlers don’t have medical benefits. They’re independent contractors,” said Daniel Wallach, a sports law expert with Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “They completely fall through the safety net. 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.”Despite the serious claims against the company, the WWE said in a statement it is confident it will not face legal ramifications from this lawsuit.
“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 organization 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.”[Bloomberg]