The lawyer leading the WWE concussion lawsuits, Konstantine Kyros talks about wrestlers diagnosed with CTE and the WWE’s efforts to discredit him and the cover-up of CTE in professional wrestling through WWE’s funding of Chris Nowinski’s Concussion Legacy Foundation. The discussion includes WWE’s Misclassification of wrestlers as independent contractors, lack of health insurance, or even workers’ compensation leading to a full blown health crisis with a staggering death rate.
Regular readers please scroll below for latest news & updates on the ongoing fight for wrestlers’ legal rights.
Kyros Law announces that it has filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court to review the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirming the dismissal of the class action lawsuits brought by former WWE wrestlers for neurological injuries they sustained in the ring.
The cases originally brought by Billy Jack Haynes along with Russ McCullough, Matt Wiese and Ryan Sakoda were dismissed by the Connecticut Courts in 2016. The wrestlers appealed and were told they had filed too early, and Ordered by Mandate to wait for the final outcome in other consolidated cases in the District of Connecticut. Those cases included the Laurinaitis action in which wrestlers including Jimmy Snuka, Balls Mahoney and Mr. Fuji were diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) after their deaths.
Once the Laurinaitis case was dismissed in 2018, Haynes and the other putative class plaintiffs again appealed. This time, the Second Circuit ruled the wrestlers were too late to file their appeals. The Court relied on a 2018 Supreme Court Case Hall v Hall decided in the interim which ruled that cases consolidated can now be immediately appealed. The Second Circuit applied the new Hall rule retroactively to deny the wrestlers second appeal. This 2019 Second Circuit ruling per the wrestlers petition effectively created an impossible ‘Catch-22’ depriving them of any rights to appeal or have any meaningful hearing on the claims they presented.
The petition also seeks review of Cassandra Frazier’s claims regarding the untimely death of long-time WWE wrestler, Nelson Frazier who was similarly denied appellate rights under the Second Circuit interpretation of Hall.
The wrestlers seek relief from the US Supreme Court as they have been deprived of their fundamental rights as US Citizens, including their right to appeal.
The WWE wrestlers suing WWE for CTE, employment misclassification, wrongful death and concealment of the risks of head injuries filed their final appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on July 8, 2019. The Appeal was filed by Kyros Law Offices. We are grateful to everyone for your support for wrestlers’ rights and our efforts to help these women and men who have given their lives to entertainment and professional wrestling.
The Appeal consolidates five appeals (and two motions for sanctions) for over 60 wrestlers and their families.
Amid controversy after Ashley committed suicide during her pending lawsuit in which she alleged she sustained concussions and was at risk for an occupational disease (CTE) that can result in suicide, WWE released a statement on 5/23/19 denying some of the allegations she made in her affidavit to a Federal Judge.
The very brief internal WWE “investigation” into the veracity of Ashley’s claims reported by WWE spokesman/lawyer Jerry McDevitt concluded components of her affidavit were “complete bullshit,” as reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The methodology, independence, conduct of the investigation and resulting written report were not revealed nor was its conclusion released with any degree of professionalism, integrity or credibility. As such the WWE’s conclusions should be approached cautiously.
WWE reaction. So first, according to WWE in statements they released the day after her death she had apologized (excerpts, in a private email, sent to an unidentified person, with no context) to them for being in a lawsuit (that she did not ever withdraw from and that is still active in a Federal Appeals Court). Second, the WWE featured tributes to her in a PPV. Thirdly, the WWE says in an extraordinary statement that Ashley was apparently perjuring herself all along in an affidavit to a Federal Judge. Aside from the oddity of all this, it looks like a WWE Corporate cover-up, concealment of the health crisis in wrestlers after the death of a young woman who was seeking help from WWE in an active lawsuit who very likely died from neurological injuries she sustained at WWE. (The family can authorize a CTE study to prove it!)
The WWE Spokesman/lawyer (Jerry McDevitt) making the statement denying Ashley’s allegations (about a meeting) calling it “complete bullshit” to the media is hardly an unbiased source, he is the same lawyer who derided the notion that Chris Benoit (who hung himself after killing his wife and one of his children) could have had CTE. And he spends most of his time attacking the lawyer helping the wrestlers and ignoring similar allegations made by 60 wrestlers in Ashley’s lawsuit (in 60 affidavits- are these also BS?). And no Mr. McDevitt did not pause his antics to offer any condolences to her lawyers.
Conclusion/Call to to Action: It seems that in the absence of a Trial in which Ashley would have testified, witnesses would have appeared, and facts could be assessed by an impartial Jury, the best step for the Board of Directors of the WWE to take to resist this controversy and get to the truth would be to hire outside counsel- unaffiliated law firms (like CBS did with Les Moonves and other companies with #meToo type issues) to conduct a completely independent investigation into all of these allegations. Justice for Ashley. She deserves no less.
It has been brought to my attention that WWE is claiming that Ashley “apologized” to them for filing her lawsuit. Since her lawsuit was Appealed, her lawsuit was ongoing and she never withdrew from it, I feel that this assertion is misleading and troubling, especially in the form of the company’s reaction to news of her suicide. To be clear Ashley contacted me for help, we worked to fight for Justice in filing her legal claims against WWE. Her Affidavit filed with Judge Vanessa Bryant in The District Court of Connecticut-can be read separately here.
Here is Ashley’s original email to me seeking representation, she was not “roped in” nor deceived about the claims she was making, on the contrary she was very articulate and passionate about what she believed. Ashley wanted Justice from the beginning to the end.
Ashely Massaro emailed this to Kyros Law” I am a former WWE Diva/wrestler with multiple long term injuries. I was working for WWE from 2005-2008 and was on the road as a main event wrestler working TV’s AND house shows at least 4 days a week for my entire career.
I was thrown in the ring after winning the 2005 diva search with absolutely no training which ultimately caused many injuries. I’ve had multiple documented concussions during my career. I was treated by WWE doctors and after leaving the company I continued to see my own personal doctors for treatment. I found out about this lawsuit through others who are on it.
I believe I am exactly who you are looking to help. I more than fit the conditions listed on your website. I’ve been plagued by these injuries my entire life after leaving the company. I believe WWE has caused major problems, life altering problems and wish more than anything that I never worked for them.
Aside from the times I was knocked unconscious and out cold for 5 minutes, I also have a fractured spine, a 5 inch metal plate inserted in my ankle for a spiral fracture that happened at a match on PPV where on camera I was rushed out by EMTs to go to the hospital for treatment. I suffered debilitating back injuries while working for them overseas in the UK and have hospital records for that as well. Vince McMahon himself ordered a cast to be sawed off of my right hand/wrist moments before I was thrown back out into the ring to wrestle on tv even though my cast was not scheduled to come off for another 2 or 3 weeks.
I was beat down, broken, and being almost forced to perform. Since then I see pain management doctors on a monthly basis for 10 years because of the pain and problems that came from my time there. Please feel free to call me or if you get a moment to please google my name and you can at least see some of the injuries I sustained that WWE posted on their officia l website. I hope to hear back from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration. – Ashley Massaro 8/23/2016 Email to Kyros Law Offices, PC
After learning that my client Ashley Massaro died (suicide by Hanging herself) today at the age of 39 during her quest for Justice from the WWE, I thought I might actually be physically ill, so overwhelmed I was with grief. Ashley was a wonderful person, she was a beautiful soul whose life ended far too quickly. She cared deeply for her daughter and was loved by all who knew her.
But I am not here to write another eulogy on the passing of a wrestler that I was trying to help. No, I am here to write about her silenced voice and express to the reader the ongoing injustices committed by the WWE that has turned its back on Ashley and those wrestlers (many who have died on my watch) who took legal action against this exploitative company. Read her words Here>>>
Last Fall (9/18) a Federal Court dismissed her claims after reading her detailed Affidavit about her terrifying experiences at WWE. The Court deemed the claims Frivolous, the WWE did a victory lap and turned case into an indictment against her advocate (this author). Her case was pending an upcoming Appeal, like many of her friends- due to her premature death she is no longer getting a day in Court.
Her death should be seen in context of her allegations which consist of a litany of abusive, exploitative practices, failed policies, allegations of cover-ups, unreported injuries, unregulated working conditions all occurring in plain sight. In the the wake of the recent John Oliver Expose, her death becomes even more noticeable, given how she highlighted nearly all of these issues revealed in the Oliver “comedic” expose.
Ashley’s 15 page affidavit to the Judge is not for the faint of heart and it is not intended for younger audiences with its many allegations.
She alleges she was misclassified by WWE as an independent contractor, even though she worked full time. She alleges she received inadequate training and was deterred from learning safer techniques. She alleges untreated concussions, she alleges back injuries, herniated discs, broken bones, and permanent injuries from WWE performances. No workers compensation, No legal rights, no OSHA regulation, no oversight. She alleges she was raped while performing for WWE near a Middle East war zone and pressured by management to keep silent. She alleges her orthopedic and other injuries led to drug abuse that led to WWE Rehab. The WWE’s response: it sends it condolences to her family and fans. Read her VOICE, Read her Words and Decide for yourself if WWE is an acting in a legal and morally acceptable way. Take a stand for Ashley Massaro.
At midnight my phone began to “blow up.” The HBO comedian, John Oliver had just launched a sustained attack on the WWE and its Chairman to his millions of viewers. Mr. Oliver hits nearly all of the issues raised in the WWE lawsuits: 1) Misclassification as Independent Contractors and inability to Unionize; 2) Unconscionable Contracts (actually shows Nelson Frazier’s Contract- deceased plaintiff whose family we represent) and sharply hits the death clause; 3) Lack of Health Insurance, workers’ compensation, pensions and health care; 4) No offseason; 5) The WWE’s Health crisis and premature death rates of pro wrestlers. This is a massive media victory and noteworthy vindication of the wrestlers’ legal claims.
The piece contains all of the talking points familiar to readers of this blog: The Jessie Ventura Unionize interview, the infamous Armen Keteyian paper in your face Vince McMahon Interview, the Keteyian Roddy Piper interview.
Amazingly Mr. Oliver concludes the very long segment with a call to action for the fans to stand up for wrestlers’ rights at Wrestlemania 35 on 4/7/19 with signs and chants!!! The segment ends with a satirical advertisement exhorting fans to see: “all your favorite wrestlers having access to: “retirement accounts,” “worker’s comp” and “family and medical leave,” i.e. the same things the wrestlers seek in their lawsuit. It goes further and describes the death rate, imagines something called an “offseason” and even ridicules the particularly embarrassing fact that many wrestlers depend on fan financed gofund me accounts to pay medical expenses (shows one for Perry Saturn).
This is a MUST WATCH for anyone following the lawsuit and everyone concerned for wrestlers. Millions of people now have a clue about what we have all been fighting for. This is a transformative moment, for the first time a major blow for the truth about pro wrestling has been delivered by a major media outlet. Not since the Chris Benoit story has there been this much attention to the plight of wrestlers. Thank you John!
March 27, 2018 The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York Placed the WWE’s motions to dismiss various wrestlers appeals on the Court’s Calendar for Oral Argument by the attorneys on April 16, 2019 in New York City at The Thurgood Marshall Courthouse. [Updated as of 3/29- the Court has apparently rescheduling this date.](Incidentally the same day- 3/27/19 Vince McMahon sold 3,204,427 shares of WWE stock ($264+ million worth) to finance his new XFL league. Hmmm $264 million dollars to fund a new football venture- ZERO money to help wrestlers struggling to pay bills with broken bodies who struggle with long-term neurological injuries like CTE- but I will not go further lest I digress into frivolous inflammatory irrelevance.)
The Issues to be argued on at the hearing when it occurs are whether a March 2018 US Supreme Court Decision in Hall V. Hall foreclosed the wrestlers’ appeals. The wrestlers argue that the District Court in Connecticut consolidated the cases for all purposes- including the Right to Appeal (A position supported by the Second Circuit when Billy Jack Haynes and Russ McCullough, Matt Wiese and Ryan Sakoda Appealed earlier back when their claims were tossed out in 2016). The WWE’s lawyers in court filings and public comments derided the wrestler’s efforts to oppose the WWE motion to dismiss and actually bring their substantive appeal for their legal rights under the US Constitution as “frivolous.” The wrestlers argue that they have human rights and should be allowed to Appeal their cases.
Chris Pallies died fighting for his rights and those of his fellow Pro Wrestlers.
I was introduced to Chris Pallies aka King Kong Bundy by Billy Jack Haynes who cautioned me that he was “a unique individual.” And he certainly was- he was blessed with that ‘once in a lifetime’ blend of hard man toughness while managing to be funny, sarcastic and passionate. Always armed with a lawyer joke or old school wrestling story he was truly one of a kind.
Chris was outspoken in defense of what he believed to be the WWE’s mistreatment of professional wrestlers and vividly described the failures he witnessed. He took legal action by joining a group of his contemporaries in trying to effect change to the WWE’s tragic ignorance of the plight of wrestlers like himself who sustained life long injuries in the Ring. Sadly he did not live to see his day in court, in one of our last talks wanted to see a Jury so that he could tell the world the truth about the WWE. His legal case appealed, as yet unheard…
There are many eulogies online that will do a better job describing his wonderful career and the support he enjoyed among his millions of fans. As his advocate I will simply say his strength of character, friendship and support will be missed. R.I.P. my friend Sincerely, Konstantine Kyros
Kyros Law Announces that “Outlaw” Ron Bass (Ronald Heard) has been diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). He is the sixth wrestler involved in the WWE concussion lawsuits, in sequence who has been diagnosed with the disease. Ron’s family is hopeful that this CTE diagnosis will help educate wrestlers about the risks of their professional careers and lead to research into medical conditions such as CTE that wrestlers like Ron are at risk for as they get older.
That task of helping wrestlers with CTE has largely fallen to Kyros Law Offices which has taken the lead in the brain donations of pro wrestlers and coordinated the studies of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Mr. Fuji (Harry Fujiwara), Rex King, (Timothy Smith), Axl Rotten (Brian Knighton), and Balls Mahoney (Jon Rechner) who have all tested positive for CTE despite the WWE’s legal attacks on Mr. Kyros and WWE’s Public Denial of the Science of CTE in wrestlers.
Ron wrestled around the world and entertained millions of fans as a Heel, sporting a black hat, handlebar mustache and a whip named Miss Betsy. By all accounts he was actually a kind soul with wonderful friends and family. Before he died he pledged to donate his brain to help other professional wrestlers in failing health, and fought for the rights of professional wrestlers in his lawsuit against the WWE.