More Than 50 Retired Wrestlers Sue WWE Over Neurological Injuries

Image courtesy of miguel.discart

Dozens of retired professional wrestlers, both male and female, have filed a lawsuit against the WWE in an effort to hold the entertainment company responsible for neurological injuries they say claim to have suffered while performing in the ring.

The complaint [PDF] was filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut behalf of plaintiffs who have performed with WWE or one of its past iterations since the 1970s, including wrestlers Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, and Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, notes Reuters.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege WWE and Chairman Vince McMahon of intentionally classifying wrestlers as “independent contractors” instead of employees, thereby shirking liability under applicable worker protection laws.

The wrestlers claim that WWE deliberately ignored and kept from them “medically important and possibly lifesaving information” about specific neurological conditions, including Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and other traumatic brain injuries that affect wrestlers and athletes who play contact sports prone to head trauma.

“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,” the complaint said.

Even though the WWE knows wrestlers are at great risk for these diseases, which can result in suicide, drug abuse and violent behavior, the plaintiff says the company “does nothing to warn, educate or provide treatment to them.”

A lawyer for the plaintiffs said in an email to Reuters that WWE’s “exploitative business model” kept his clients from learning their rights under laws such as the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and wants WWE to improve medical monitoring of its entertainers.

WWE said in a statement that it’s confident the case will be dismissed, just like two earlier lawsuits claiming that the organization hid the risks of head trauma from wrestling.

“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.”

[via Reuters]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.