More than 50 wrestlers with traumatic brain injuries sued the WWE for failing to take adequate measures to protect its performers.
A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by more than 50 former professional wrestlers against the WWE.
According to The Associated Press, the long-time athletes claimed that World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from repeated head injuries, which culminated in chronic—and in some cases, irreversible—brain damage.
However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling by a Connecticut-based federal judge, finding that most of the wrestlers’ claims were frivolous or filed long past the statute of limitations’ expiry.
The Associated Press reports that the plaintiffs included prominent—and lesser-known—names, such as: Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Chris “King Kong Bundy” Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, popularly known as Mr. Yoshi.
Both Snuka and Fujiwara died in 2017 and 2016, respectively. The A.P. notes that the men had been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Many of the other wrestlers have sustained similar injuries, while others suffer from dementia and other physio-cognitive disorders.
The lawsuit alleged that the WWE’s management, including its chairman, Vince McMahon, knew that its events posed a significant risk of brain injury to performers—yet opted not to warn wrestlers.
Predictably, attorneys for the plaintiffs have criticized the ruling.
Konstantine Kyros, the Massachusetts-based lawyer representing the wrestlers, said the Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision was a “rubber stamp” copy of an earlier ruling wrought by U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant.
Kyros further said the appeals panel’s dismissal was “devoid of any original reasoning or engagement with the legal issues raised in the wrestlers’ appeal.”
“In its conclusory assertions the injured wrestlers find no justice having been literally denied a day in court,” Kyros told The Associated Press in an e-mailed statement. “Per this mandate wrestlers have no rights, no rights to bring this lawsuit, no rights to help from the WWE for CTE & head injuries, no rights as misclassified employees, no rights to a jury, and ironically no right to even appeal!”
The Associated Press added that the appeals ruling directly affects Kyros, too—it denied his request to lift sanctions imposed by Bryant, along with an order that he compensate the WWE for its legal expenses.
In an earlier statement, released days after the lawsuit was first filed, the WWE blasted Kyros, accusing him of making misleading and predatory claims.
“This is another ridiculous attempt by the same attorney who has previously filed class action lawsuits against the WWE, both of which have been dismissed,” the WWE said in 2016. “A federal judge has also found that this lawyer made patently false allegations about the WWE, and this is more of the same.”
Interestingly, The Associated Press observes that the National Hockey League and National Football League have both been compelled to pay out large sums of money to athletes who suffered traumatic injuries.