WWE Funded The CTE Study That Discovered Disease in 99% of NFL Players- Zero Studies Of Wrestlers….Yet

The WWE’s Cover-up and silence on CTE continues through its financing of the largest study to date of CTE in NFL players. This post is the only outlet to identify this issue: On July 25, 2017 a study funded in part by the WWE reported that Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was found in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to scientific research. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association- one of the premier medical journals in the world and received heavy press world-wide. Not reported was the WWE’s role in funding the study and its continued failure to finance or promote any study of CTE in wrestlers.

 

The WWE/NFL financed study confirms that:
1) Repeated head trauma that causes CTE  will equally impact wrestlers- unless the laws of physics are different in WWE and wrestling matches.
2) CTE is no longer “junk science” but has entered the realm of near certainty.
3) The WWE knows or should know that wrestlers are at risk for CTE. The study is decisive evidence of WWE’s awareness of CTE.
4) One month after the study was published the WWE refused to even discuss ways to help wrestlers, refused to finance CTE research in wrestlers, refused an NFL style program to treat wrestlers.

The publication of this groundbreaking study raises troubling questions about the integrity of scientific research and the medical and legal establishments total indifference to WWE wrestlers. Where is the call to study wrestlers brains or get help for wrestlers?

The study included the brains of deceased players of American football from an active brain donation program, CTE was diagnosed in 110 of 111 former National Football League players (99%).

In contrast all current CTE donations & studies of WWE wrestlers by Dr. Bennett Omalu are being helped by a lawyer in Hingham, Massachusetts. The WWE and Boston University failure to study CTE in this group represent the institutional indifference to wrestlers who have no power or voice.

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2645104

Nowinski Urges NHL Players to Donate. Ignores WWE Wrestlers

A wrestling fan emailed me this item about the controversial Chris Nowinski- the founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation that has gotten millions of dollars from WWE and has Triple H on its Board of Directors.

Last year Mr. Nowinski, a former WWE wrestler was the subject of a Boston Globe Expose on the Foundation’s failure to do any studies of WWE wrestlers and its apparent inaction on recruiting WWE wrestlers brains for CTE studies- per the June 2016 article Mr. Nowinski implausibly told the Boston Globe that he did not acquire WWE wrestlers brains because “Many people who meet our brain donation criteria die each year, and I would estimate we do not pursue over 99% of cases.” Mr. Nowinski also told the globe that he had scaled back actively pursuing brains of people who have died. Yet here he is in August 2017 actively recruiting brains for NHL players (with WWE money?) and linking to an ESPN article about how the failure of NHL players to donate raises “red flags.”

The key component of CTE research is getting athletes to donate their brains, without Brain donations there is no research. Mr. Nowinski, Boston University (this author graduated from BU law) and the WWE appear to be working towards a goal that ignores studies of CTE wrestlers. Does millions of dollars from the WWE and Mr. Levesque’s board seat influence this research?

When former “troubled” NFL player Junior Seau died on May 2, 2012 there was massive media speculation that he may have had CTE. Indeed this diagnosis was later confirmed after numerous entities attempted to acquire Mr. Seau’s brain for CTE study. According to the book: League of Denial (Mark Fainaru-Wada, Steve Fainaru): “Minutes after Seau’s body was carried out of the house, his oldest son Tyler began getting calls seeking his father’s brain.” (p.7)

Indeed the episode occupies an entire chapter of the League of Denial book entitled “buzzards.” The authors report that “at least half a dozen prominent researchers were making a play for Seaus’ brain.” These included a research doctor who won the Nobel Prize. The day of Seau’s death (at 5:55am) the Nowinski-headed BU group apparently enlisted a famous Sports Illustrated writer who tweeted to over 1 million followers: “Dedicated researchers in Boston studying deceased players’ brains for evidence of trauma attempting to obtain Junior Seau’s. Hope they do.” (p.332)

However contrast this brain recruitment activity when a year earlier on April 3, 2012 Chief Jay Strongbow died. Nothing. No recruitment, no mention of CTE.
Maybe that was because he was out of the limelight, but then:
June 28, 2013 WWE wrestler Matthew Osborne dies. No CTE Study.
February 18, 2014 Nelson Frazier dies  No CTE study.
April 2, 2014 Ultimate Warrior. No CTE study.
June 10, 2015 Dusty Rhodes No CTE study.
July 30, 2015 Roddy Piper. No CTE study.

No CTE Studies, donation drives or activity by BU, Nowinski, Nobel prize winners, NIH or anyone else for wrestlers. Mr. Seau is famous to be sure, but is he more famous than the Ultimate Warrior? Or Roddy Piper?

Lets image the scenario in reverse- let’s suppose that the NFL donated millions of dollars to Mr. Nowinski’s Group at BU to study the effects of activity in the squared circle on the brains of former WWE wrestlers (this would actually make sense as Nowinski is a former WWE wrestler who says he retired in part due to head trauma sustained in WWE matches). Later after donating millions, the number two executive at the NFL, say Tod Leiweke was given a board seat on this foundation and the foundation did not study the brains of any professional football players. Further suppose the NFL financed a study of 100 former WWE wrestlers brains and they overwhelming showed CTE. At the same time the NFL denied that it knew anything about CTE in NFL players (and did not educate them, warn them or help them about CTE.). While the NFL did nothing about CTE, the WWE donated tens of millions earmarked to study the brains of WWE wrestlers, and WWE put aside one billion dollars to help them. Mr. Nowinski then showed up at Wrestlemania to protest the “inaction” by WWE, but was given comped Superbowl tickets and made no mention of CTE while in attendance at NFL games. Would it be plausible that the NFL did not influence CTE research in any way?

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