The WWE cases continues…
On March 28, 2018 Judge Bryant’s ruled: “After careful consideration of the evidence in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs, the Court has determined that the evidence does not support a finding that WWE knew of a risk that repeated head injuries incurred while performing as a professional wrestler could cause permanent degenerative neurological conditions prior to September 5, 2007.”
The court also stated: “LoGrasso’s claim cannot survive summary judgment because undisputed evidence in the record demonstrates that WWE did not know of a potential link between concussions and permanent degenerative disorders until after LoGrasso stopped wrestling.”
This is obviously not the ruling the injured wrestlers hoped for, especially those struggling with long-term head injuries and CTE. The plaintiffs obviously believe that the facts support the opposite conclusion- that the WWE in fact knew about the risks of head injuries at all relevant times and has a duty to help the wrestlers with neurological injuries. As of today however the Court has ruled for WWE (in the LoGrasso/Singleton case). This has been a very hard fought lawsuit with a great team of lawyers fighting for Evan and Vito, our thoughts are with them and all those wrestlers who are struggling with long-term head injuries.
One important function of the pending legal claims against the WWE is to prove that CTE exists in WWE wrestlers in order to get them medical care. An important element of the claims is that former wrestlers may be at risk for CTE. The lawsuits are asking in part, for the WWE to acknowledge this science. The WWE has so far tried to avoid admitting that wrestlers may be at risk for CTE and the pending lawsuits have in a sense forced the WWE to take a position on the science behind CTE. The fullest statement on the WWE stance on CTE can be gleaned by looking at the papers that their lawyers have filed in the lawsuits.
In seeking to dismiss the claims made by Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton (their cases were filed before the 60 wrestlers in the Laurinaitis case), the WWE was forced to make its views known.
The fullest WWE position on CTE can be read here: “The State of CTE Science is Not a Known Fact”
In this filing with the Court the WWE quotes (underlines and bolds the text) from a controversial 24th International Conference on Concussion in Sport in Zurich in 2012 which stated among other things that:
“It was… agreed that a cause and effect relationship has not been demonstrated between CTE and Concussions or exposure to contact sports.”
“It was further agreed that CTE was not related to concussions alone or simply exposure to contact sports.”
“As such the speculation that repeated concussion or subconcussive impacts cause CTE remains unproven.”
So in order for the WWE to defend the claims made by the wrestlers it relies on studies that the majority of the medical community rejects.
The plaintiffs experts and lawyers themselves do not even have to make this argument. The argument has been made for them by the WWE financed doctors: Ann McKee and Robert Cantu at Boston University!
Dr. Ann McKee wrote on March 17 2013 about this very article cited by the WWE in the lawsuits “This is a time that calls for immediate action to reduce the amount of head trauma experienced by athletes in all sports to prevent CTE,” McKee said via email. “And it is now irresponsible to justify inaction by requesting a level of scientific proof that will take decades to acquire.”
Dr. Robert Cantu had a similar reaction to the WWE cited statements telling the press: “When I saw in the consensus statement that we need more data in terms of CTE, I wrote to the other authors, in essence, ‘What the hell do you mean that we need more data?'” Dr. Robert Cantu said in a phone conversation Thursday. “…Frankly, it stunned me.”
Additionally the CTE studies financed in part by the WWE by the BU researchers reach the exact opposite conclusions of this Zurich Conference. Including a recent WWE-funded study that was said to be “the best evidence to date … that CTE is caused not just by concussions, but rather by any blow to the head, including mild impacts.”See earlier posts.
The WWE position on CTE science in the lawsuits is not only out-of-date and incoherent, the WWE position also directly contradicts the very studies and experts it funds at Boston University. The WWE’s tragic hypocrisy means that former WWE wrestlers will continue to suffer from CTE without any help or treatment until the Court forces them to act.
A pioneering CTE study published January 18, 2018 demonstrates that CTE is caused by repeated hits to the head not simply concussions. The lead doctor of the Boston University team that conducted the study described the paper as “the best evidence to date … that CTE is caused not just by concussions, but rather by any blow to the head, including mild impacts.”
As such the argument strongly supports a central claim made in the pending concussion lawsuits against the WWE. According to the wrestlers lawsuit: “The wrestling moves that involve the occupational head trauma that causes CTE and associated diseases from the accumulated effects of TBIs are the result of wrestling moves… that were performed “correctly” by the Plaintiffs. In other words, the head trauma that has resulted in injury is the accumulated effect of many impacts to the plaintiffs’ heads that occurred on a regular, routine basis during their WWE career.” The WWE has strenuously denied this claim.
Incredibly, the WWE actually helped fund this very study in 2018 that supports the injured wrestlers claims, and yet maintains in Court documents and media statements it is ignorant of any risk of CTE among professional wrestlers and openly derides the claims of the wrestlers, five of whom have died and been diagnosed with CTE including well-known wrestlers Jimmy Snuka and Mr. Fuji.
The WWE maintains in the Singleton/LoGrasso case: Quote: “The State of CTE Science is Not a Known Fact,” and WWE Doctors claim in court papers WWE is ignorant of CTE.
The WWE Lead Lawyer explained to the worldwide media: ”Before this guy [Konstantine Kyros] started trolling around looking for people to sue, we didn’t have one person, none, claiming they had any kind of traumatic brain injuries, or dementia or ALS or any of the kind of stuff you seek associated with the NFL.”
Since then the lawsuit has been amended (November 2017), there are five wrestlers diagnosed with CTE in the case itself (and two others Chris Benoit and Andrew “Test” Martin diagnosed by Dr Omalu) as well plaintiffs (including Paul Orndorff) with diseases including dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
The conflict between these positions is even more striking because the BU affiliated Concussion Legacy Foundation gave a seat to one of the “CTE in wrestling deniers”: wrestler Paul Levesque AKA Triple H, an executive VP at WWE (husband of Stephanie McMahon). Mr. Levesque has publicly donwplayed the risks in WWE wrestling, telling USA today :” pro wrestling is fundamentally different from football when it comes to hard impacts… If you’re in the NFL, your goal is to try to hit the other guy as hard as possible. … The goal in what we do is the exact opposite,” said Levesque.
This is a real-time repeat of the NFL League of Denial story. However the striking contrast is that the WWE has seemingly bought the silence of Mr. Nowinski who heads the Concussion Legacy Foundation (see the unbelievable Boston Globe expose of his role), and BU researchers through its large cash donations and Triple H’s board seat on the CLF. The WWE appears to maintain its denial of CTE science in order to avoid paying money to help its injured wrestlers.
The scientific article published in a medical journal called “Brain” received heavy media coverage. The worldwide headlines announced:
CNN: “It’s not concussions that cause CTE. It’s repeated hits, a study finds”
Los Angles Times: “Forget concussions. The real risk of CTE comes from repeated hits to the head, study shows.”
CBS Sports: “Study: CTE caused by repeated hits to head, even those that don’t cause concussions.”
Daily Mail UK:
‘Concussion is a red herring’ for CTE: Major study shows repeated hits (even mild ones) are the REAL problem
• Boston University has found the biggest problem for CTE is the way the head is hit, not the concussion
• Concussion is to CTE what a cough is to lung cancer: it does not predict it and treating it does not prevent it
• The paper is the clearest evidence to date of a causal link between football tackles and CTE – and suggests there is no way to prevent it
These headlines should also point out that the WWE, unlike the NFL is continuing to deny the science and continues to deny any help, money or research to address the CTE health crisis it is directly responsible for among professional wrestlers. The WWE evades these duties despite funding the study that proves its athletes are in health crisis and there can be no doubt of WWE’s actual knowledge of nature of CTE. The WWE’s legal and moral position in the face of evidence it now has at its disposal puts the organization into its own category of corporate misconduct.
On January 17, 2018 the plaintiffs filed a motion to deem fifty statements of fact admitted by the WWE. The WWE’s lawyers had responded evasively by objecting to the requests which are required to be admitted or denied under the Federal Rules. The purpose of these rules to is to get facts on the record in the lawsuit something which the WWE does not want to do.
WWE Wrestlers hit back at WWE’s attempts to dismiss the Laurinaitis Lawsuit- Read document by clicking on image
Link to entire document: Response to SAC – FILED 12.11.17
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”) Exists in Professional Wrestlers and is Diagnosed in at Least Five Named Plaintiffs.
Significantly, five of the named plaintiffs have had post-mortem neuropathology studies reflecting a diagnosis of an occupational disease related to brain trauma. These diagnoses show the existence of such diseases in professional wrestlers notwithstanding WWE’s continued public denials and defenses to the plaintiffs’ claims made herein.
- Plaintiff Estate of James W Snuka, has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”)
- Plaintiff Estate of Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and Chronic Traumatic Myelo-Encephalopathy (“CTME”)
- Plaintiff Estate of Jon Rechner, has a diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”);
- Plaintiff Estate of Brian D. Knighton, has a diagnosis of early stage Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”);
- Plaintiff Estate of Timothy Alan Smith, has a diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”);
The wrestlers filed a second amended complaint in US District Court in Connecticut. Click Here to Read the Lawsuit >>>
This case involves retired professional wrestlers and performers who sustained long term neurological and other injuries during their tenure with WWE. As is detailed hereinafter, the Plaintiffs were intentionally and systematically deprived by the WWE of valuable rights guaranteed under State and Federal law, all under the direction and control of its Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder, Vincent K. McMahon.
On September 29, 2017, Judge Vanessa Bryant ordered the plaintiff wrestlers to refile the WWE lawsuit. In doing so, she rendered moot and denied all the earlier attempts by WWE to dismiss the case (subject to the plaintiffs’ next filing). The result is that the wrestler-plaintiffs have another opportunity to make their case and refine their arguments about the WWE’s responsibilities before the court. Significantly, Judge Bryant also asked for private statements to be submitted directly to the court from every plaintiff involved in the lawsuit.
A Wall Street Journal Article 4/15, The Perils of Workers’ Comp for Injured Cirque du Soleil Performers noted that Cirque du Soleil performers struggle because they get only workers’ comp! The Journal clearly hasn’t read the WWE lawsuits.
The WWE wrestlers not only don’t get workers’ compensation, they get no insurance or long-term care at all from WWE. If they get CTE or a neuro-cognitive disorder they get: absolutely nothing. The article also ruefully observed that unlike professional athletes, injured Cirque stars don’t even get to keep their salaries.
The article invites other interesting and startling contrasts to WWE which does not record or report its injury rates to OSHA or anyone else. Does anyone think that WWE wrestlers have lower rates of injury than Cirque du Soleil performers?
But Cirque stands out for the number of injuries to its performers, many of which become workers’ compensation claims. A Wall Street Journal analysis showed that in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, Cirque’s Kà show in Las Vegas had a higher rate of injury than all but 78 workplaces on a list of nearly 52,000 of the most dangerous compiled by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Most top professional sports teams, including Major League Baseball, which are among the only workplaces (wait what about WWE?) to come close to Cirque in likelihood of injuries, give workers their full salary until their multiyear contracts expire. In the National Football League, injured players receive only a portion of their salary for a few years if they can’t play, but they generally receive large upfront bonus payments to make up for the risk, according to sports agents and lawyers.
Ms. Muller criticized Cirque for not providing more generous financial settlements. “These are not flukes, these are accidents,” she said. “You can’t send people home broken and broke.”
Does anyone know any broken and broke former WWE wrestlers?