Did WWE continue using ECW or WCW assets? Read Argument
Upon investigation into the history of WWE and its acquisition of the business and assets of other promotions, it seems clear that the WWE may incur liability for the occupational injuries sustained by wrestlers in all ECW and WCW matches. How is this? Under a well established legal doctrine called Successor Liability or “de facto merger” businesses can assume unanticipated liabilities if the merger of the entities or business meets certain objective tests.
The general rule is that the mere transfer of assets from one corporation to another corporation does not make the latter liable for the debts or liabilities of the first corporation. However, as the plaintiff’s contend in the newest WWE lawsuit, a corporation acquiring the assets of another corporation assumes the liabilities of the selling corporation if: (1) the successor expressly or impliedly agrees to assume them, (2) the transaction may be viewed as a de facto merger or consolidation, (3) the successor is the mere continuation of the predecessor, or (4) the transaction is fraudulent. The second and third factors are in play in this lawsuit with respect the the business of the ECW and WCW. Read the Plaintiff’s argument in detail here.
Here is an article written by a well known law firm (that defends companies like the WWE) about the doctrine being used by the wrestlers. Like asbestos litigation, the wrestlers allege that they sustained latent occupational diseases or risks from assets/business that continued to make money for the new corporation. Thus a ECW or WCW wrestler (sustaining head trauma in ECW or WCW) who is now featured in the now owned WWE videos (for example) may be able to argue that WWE merged the companies under this doctrine. The doctrine does not care if the assets were acquired with “no strings attached” because the successor company (the WWE in this case) assumes liability, according to the theory, whether it wants to or not by operation of law.
We are closely examining this issue and welcome evidence of any use of WCW or ECW assets by WWE.