What do Wrestlers/Plaintiffs want WWE to do?

What types of relief do wrestlers want? This is a very basic summary. Ideas for resolving the case include:

1.     Full Health insurance coverage for all Plaintiffs and their families who do not have it or cannot afford it/supplemental polices for people on medicare/medicaid;

2.     Lump sum disability and/or disability payouts based on medical diagnosis- in part based on total number of WWE/ECW/WCW matches/offset by SSDI/SSI;

3.     WWE should pay for Medical monitoring for CTE for all Plaintiffs;

4.     Additional payouts for diagnosed neurological conditions for Plaintiffs with qualifying diagnoses (real issues discovered by a doctor);

5.     WWE should Pay for comprehensive Mortality/Death Rate in Wrestling Study with view to helping lower it;

6.     Program to build and improve outreach to wrestlers in need (expand drug and alcohol program and tie it to overall medical care);

7.     Fair royalty payments and a full accounting to all plaintiffs;

8.     WWE should Correctly classify wrestlers as employees;

9.     WWE should Finance wrestler-specific CTE research (unlike just giving millions to other sports/military CTE studies); and

10.   WWE should give lump sum payments to Plaintiffs with CTE diagnoses after death.

WWE Lawsuit Settlement Conference Date Set 8/28

Settlement Conference set for 8/28/2017 at 10:00 AM and, if necessary, 8/29/2017 450 Main St., Hartford, CT before Judge Thomas P. Smith. Ex parte statements no longer than 3 pages in length, setting forth what discussions they have had with regard to settlement; what demand(s) and counter offers there have been; and views on how to resolve the case are due by 8/23/2017 and shall be submitted via fax. Ex parte statements should address settlement, not a recitation of the history of the litigation. Counsel in attendance must be empowered with decision-making authority.

Judge Bryant Orders WWE, Wrestlers to Settlement Talks

Docket Text:
ORDER: Counsel are ordered to meet with all of their respective clients and discuss possible settlement of these cases, including reasonable offers and demands. Counsel are further ordered to meet and confer with one another and inform this Court within 21 days of the date of this order of the dates in June, July and August of 2017 on which all counsel, parties, and others necessary to commit to a full and final settlement of these matters are available to devote an entire day to settlement discussions with Judge Thomas Smith. Signed by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on 5/9/2017. (Hoffman, S)

WWE’s motion for Summary Judgment in Singleton/LoGrasso Case Denied for now, but more to come….

The court denied WWE’s motion to toss Singleton/LoGrasso case, but the Court requires further briefing on the issue in an effort to uncover the facts.

Court ruled: “The case resolves around a single question:
‘Did WWE become aware of and fail to disclose to Singleton and LoGrasso information concerning a link between repeated head trauma and permanent neurological conditions or specialized knowledge concerning the possibility that its wrestlers could be exposed to a greater risk for such conditions.'”

Interestingly the 2005 date is no longer mentioned in the ruling- evidence introduced on the record in the case- shows WWE had such prior knowledge- including a “smoking gun” video of a December 1995 Monday Night Raw interview with Dr. Unger discussing Shawn Michaels alleged “post concussion syndrome.” Post Concussion Syndrome was a term used before the widespread use of CTE for long term effects of head trauma as opposed to “concussion” which is viewed as a transient or short term event. As such that fact and other evidence demonstrate that the WWE cannot plausibly deny that it did/does not know about such risks during the relevant time period.

 

Read Court Ruling here: MSJ-LoGrasso

 

Wrestlers File Opposition to WWE and Vincent K. McMahon’s Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit

[WWE and Vincent K. McMahon] make the astounding claim that Plaintiffs have not plead “anything unconscionable about the contract”. Defendants apparently feel that deliberate misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” and the resulting sweeping away of an entire array of guaranteed state and federal statutory rights represents no injustice. Requiring a worker to pay for all of his own medical care even when injured on the job, in violation of Worker’s Compensation laws need not bother us. Refusing to allow a wrestler’s broken body the 12 weeks’ recovery[1] mandated by FMLA can be just passed by as an irrelevancy. Who cares if mandated notices under OSHA to provide a “safe workplace” were hidden – the wrestlers should have been tough enough to withstand any injury. So what if Plaintiffs were defrauded out of ERISA benefits – just a bump along the way. The actual (or feigned) blindness of the Defendants to the scope of their illegal activities is breathtaking.

Indeed, the very brief of the Defendants reflects magnificently the attitude of the WWE under the direction and control of the VKM Defendants. If one is above the law, no violation of law carries any meaning, and no victim of your arrogance is entitled to any consideration let alone compensation.

The Defendants [WWE and Vincent K. McMahon] say that such unconscionability exists only when the contract terms “shock the conscience” [Document 267 @ 71/113], and cite yet another unpublished case in support of this proposition. Plaintiffs state that these contracts in fact “shock the conscience”. They blatantly purport to set aside every worker protection from a safe working environment, to Worker’s Compensation benefits, to the right to organize a union guaranteed by U.S. Law and international treaty, to the right of an employee to enjoy an employer’s contribution to FICA, FUTA and Medicare taxes, or to even sue for an unforeseen injury caused by the negligence of the employer (i.e. exculpatory releases), the right to share in an equitable portion of one’s own intellectual property, the right to 12 weeks to recover and NOT to be fired in 8 weeks because one is injured (FMLA). The workers here were left with one right – to do what Vincent K. McMahon and his agents at the WWE told them and receive their check, or get lost and find their own way to pay for rehabilitation of their broken bodies

Additionally, the paltry royalties were identified as an integral element of WWE’s “swindle” of the Plaintiffs. In Paragraph 486 of the FAC one of the notable swindles identified was the payment of twenty-three cents to Bruce Reed upon a revenue gross of $4,844.44 to the WWE. In paragraph 487 of the FAC, the examples given were identified as evidence of the fraud upon and exploitation of the Plaintiffs. Any reasonable person would understand these allegations to depict unconscionable contract provisions. The allegations “swindle” and “exploitation” are the foundation of unconscionability, especially when coupled with the allegations of FAC 501-503 which specifically use the word unconscionable as applied to the exploitation of Plaintiffs intellectual property.

Read the FULL Document: Plaintiff’s Opposition to WWE and Vincent K. McMahon’s Motion to Dismiss

Sanctions Hearings: WWE Versus the Legal Team Trying to Help Wrestlers

The court held two marathon hearing as to whether the Plaintiff’s attorneys should be sanctioned in the WWE lawsuits. The arguments were wide-ranging and presentations were made calmly by both sides (for the most part). At the March 9, 2017 hearing Attorney Kyros prepared these introductory remarks- the text is not exactly what was said in court as he varied his delivery with further detail and other commentary. Attorney Kyros also presented a slide show on various aspects of the case. Attorneys Norris, Boumil and Leydon also appeared for the Plaintiff’s.

Draft of Kyros comments to the Court: Thank you your Honor for having this hearing and giving us the opportunity to address the court. In spite of Mr. McDevitt’s strategy of personally attacking the plaintiff’s attorneys in an attempt to discredit us and thereby discredit the plaintiff’s case before it can even be heard, we are here to answer Mr. McDevitt’s plethora of false allegations of attorney misconduct, without losing sight of the real issue- the claims of a group of WWE wrestlers brought against the WWE for their misconduct.

A group of 60 men and women that is dwindling as we argue over distraction issues that are preventing this group from getting adequate healthcare.

Indeed another named plaintiff, Ron Bass died just two days ago. Named Plaintiff Chavo Guerrero, Sr died Feb 11, Rex King on Jan 9 and Jimmy Snuka on Jan 15. That is four in the Laurinaitis case this year already. Another client of the firm died Feb 18- who was sued by the WWE when I send a letter of representation. The WWE will have a talking point about the causes of death- which misses the point that they suffered from occupational harm and disease- that either caused or contributed to their deaths.

This health crisis stems from a totally archaic workplace structure that has emerged unchanged from unregulated wrestling working conditions which had one goal to enrich the promoters. No longer a side show to a carnival or small regional promoter that stages matches on Saturday nights- the WWE and the McMahon dynasty have created an entity that harnessed the popularity of the worlds oldest sport in way that dwarfs the efforts of all the carnival/boxing/wrestling promoters of the past.

The tragedy is that for the billions made by the McMahons which could have easily provided for all the wrestlers, the McMahon family kept to the old model of exploitation- in a situation of unfair bargaining power that has no precedent in any athletic promotion- even boxing promoters like Don King- well know for their sharp practices (that prompted the passage of laws like the Muhammed Ali Act and others) these promoters at least had the innate ability of the boxers to contend with- the WWE is guided by no one, and no rules whatsoever since they control all wrestling at the highest levels-winners- losers- careers- lives and futures are at their discretion.

The familiar tools that pretend to have the color of legality are really unconscionable contracts of adhesion, phoney preemptive releases as well as post employment – sometimes decades later releases procured for pennies all designed to lock down the wrestlers and prevent any lawyer or anyone bold enough to challenge these practices with immediate threats Rule 11. The contracts/releases and associated conduct is prohibited under CT law, federal law and principles of equity that this court and our system of justice rests upon.

The argument on misclassification and the workplace structure is not academic – as it often is- here under its oppression, the wrestlers gradually succumb to their occupational injuries- broken necks, broken backs, fused discs, hip replacements, knees, shoulders for which they most often have inadequate medical care to treat especially as they age.

Hiding in all of this are the latent occupational diseases that rob them of their minds, and memories. In the CTE debate the wrestlers may finally have justice- the weigh of evidence is overwhelming that the wrestlers are at risk and will likely suffer from neurological injuries from their careers.

The case characterized as legally frivolous involves the third and fourth deceased wrestlers ever studied that have CTE- with diagnosis confirmed by Dr. Bennett Omalu the pioneer in modern CTE studies.

Mr. McDevitt frequently alleges this suit against the WWE is all about money. He is right, it is all about money, the millions of dollars of income generated by the wrestlers including the named plaintiffs for the WWE each year. The money saved by the WWE for failure to provide for the health and wellbeing of the wrestlers in their employ, the money saved by the failure to provide medical monitoring and neurological testing and treatment. The money they are refusing to compensate their former wrestlers for their suffering caused by the failures of the WWE to inform and protect.

Mr. McDevitt is in a frantic attempt to protect the WWE’s huge financial assets and to prevent reducing them by even the slightest percentage to compensate and protect wrestlers in health crisis today. And he is in a Frantic attempt to suppress the fact that the WWE knew about the dangers of head trauma for years and now faces a looming CTE epidemic that WWE does not wants to resolve.

McDevitt’s sole aim of this request for sanctions and dismissal is to prevent any exposure of the WWE’s practices and conduct towards the people who enabled them to dominate the wrestling world.

Court Scheduling Conference Minutes- January 24, 2017

Hon. Judge Robert A. Richardson 1/24/17: “All right. Lastly, I guess the only other item that I think I would address while we’re all here is whether you guys have any interest in talking settlement with a magistrate judge…. But I throw it out there in the event that both parties have any interest in discussing settlement with a magistrate judge. We have magistrate judges who are here and very able and very capable. It sounds like this litigation has been going on for a while, since 2015. It sounds like it’s going to continue to go on at least for a while longer, depending on how motions get resolved; but I would encourage you that it’s never a bad idea to talk settlement with a third party. It doesn’t mean that anyone is surrendering on any position, but it gives you at least a third party’s view of things, and maybe helps you get the case resolved alot faster and more efficiently.” See Full Minutes here, basically the discussion was about trying to get a schedule for the lawsuit (called a 26f report).

10/16/16 the WWE wrote in its Motion for Sanctions DK 229 page 3 “WWE has previously advised Plaintiff’s Counsel that it is not interested in settlement… Plaintiffs  Counsel submitted a proposed Rule 26(f) report in this case requesting an early settlement conference.” This appears as a footnote to the WWE’s claims the plaintiffs lawyers “are attempting to extort a settlement.”

Needless to say I think that the WWE legal team is committed to continuing its defensive line of scorched earth tactics, and not discussing trying to help the wrestlers with medical care despite the fact that four plaintiffs have already died this year- the latest with the passing of Ron Bass on March 7, 2017.