July 20, 2016
The NFL is trying to settle a concussion lawsuit against it. A concussion lawsuit against the NHL is currently pending.
Now, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-18/wwe-sued-by-superfly-snuka-and-others-over-brain-injuries">53 former wrestlers are suing the WWE over concussions. It really only seemed to be a matter of time before the biggest wrestling organization in America ended up in court.
Some of the lawsuits’ better known plaintiffs are Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff and Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis. Some interesting facts: Snuka was just declared mentally incompetent to stand trial for the murder and manslaughter charges stemming from 1983, Laurinaitis’ brother John still works for the WWE, and Orndorff made an appearance at WrestleMania XXX and on Monday Night Raw in 2014.
James Harris, better known as http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2267803-from-wrestling-legend-to-double-amputee-kamala-keeps-fighting">Kamala, is a Mississippi native and is also named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Harris had both his legs amputated due to diabetes in 2014.
The lawsuit alleges that the WWE hid the risk of brain trauma from wrestlers and put profits over the welfare of performers’ health. Attorney Konstantine Kyros, whose name sounds like wrestling heel or bad guy, filed the lawsuit.
Kyros has tried to sue the WWE in the past and has already seen two class-action lawsuits against the Stamford, Conn.-based company dismissed. He also has two wrongful death lawsuits pending against the WWE.
One major obstacle to this lawsuit is if the wrestlers can prove the WWE knew the dangers of concussions and hid them from them. As ESPN’s http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/17105225/former-wrestlers-sue-wwe-alleging-long-term-neurological-damage">legal expert Lester Munson points out, do the wrestlers and their lawyers have a “smoking gun” to prove that the WWE knowingly withheld concussion information?
Another hurdle for the wrestlers will be that they were, and still are, considered independent contractors. Unlike the NFL and other sports leagues, wrestlers don’t have a union to represent them.
The current lawsuit addresses the fact that the wrestlers are independent contractors and states that independent contractor is the wrong designation.
Even if the wrestlers get the lawsuit in front of a judge or jury, many of them worked for other organizations. In the days before the WWE became a national company, wrestlers worked for organizations that were territory based.
Several of the wrestlers in this lawsuit started out during the territorial days. In those days, the different territories were under gentleman's agreements, and the National Wrestling Alliance was the governing body.
Nearly http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2016/0719/614697/full-list-of-51-plaintiffs-involved-in-wwe-lawsuit/">all of the wrestlers in the lawsuit wrestled for organizations such as World Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, Total NonStop Action and others.
In fact, some wrestlers in the lawsuit spent more time with other organizations than they did with the WWE. The fact that the WWE bought both WCW and ECW might play a part in the lawsuit.
Any wrestler who spent time in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g0zJbQPxos">ECW might have a hard time proving any health problems they had were suffered in the WWE. The former https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSGyi1RXlBM">Philadelphia-based wrestling company was known for hardcore matches and dangerous stunts.
How will the WWE’s branding of their product as sports entertainment be taken into account by the court? Also will the drug, alcohol and steroid use, well-documented by the death of other wrestlers, be a factor in a courtroom?
It will be interesting to see how the law sees this suit and the differences between professional wrestling and other major professional sports.