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?
In writing my paper, my co-authors and I transitioned from “football players” to “athletes,” because those who participate in all contact sports- most especially high-impact, high contact sports are at risk of brain trauma and therefore CTE. This includes those who play football, ice hockey, wrestling…..
FILED_Judicial Notice_CTE Study_with Ex. A_JAMA CTE Study_9.12.17
Click link above to see filed court document. The WWE and NFL funded largest study of CTE to date.
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.
Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Thomas P. Smith: Settlement Conference held on 8/28/2017. Case did not settle. Magistrate Judge has invited both sides to contact him anytime in the future if they believe settlement would be possible. Total Time: 5 hours.
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.
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)