BloodSport: Tossed WWE Concussion Suit Becomes Triple Threat Match

The triple threat contestants are a federal district court judge, plaintiffs lawyer Konstantine Kyros and K&L Gates litigation partner Jerry McDevitt, a longtime outside lawyer to the WWE.

In reality, the case is turning into something more like a two-on-one against Kyros, who this week was ordered for at least the second time to pay the WWE’s legal fees by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant of the District of Connecticut. Bryant asked a magistrate judge Wednesday to review K&L Gates’ request of nearly $155,000 in legal fees [it was $176,000+ in Vito LoGrasso/Evan Singleton case plus more to come]  it was awarded for work filing a motion for sanctions.

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No Justice for Jon Heidenreich? Court Cites his Injuries as “Irrelevant Allegations” In Opinion. Read His Affidavit to The Judge

Heart of a Warrior: Read Jon Heidenreich’s Plea to Judge

On September 29, 2017- almost a year ago the Connecticut Federal Court overseeing the wrestlers claims ordered Mr. Kyros and the lawyers representing the wrestlers to get an affidavit from each, writing:” The Court assumes that Attorney Kyros had a good faith belief that the allegations in the Laurinaitis complaint … were true based on interviews with his clients, in which each revealed information about his or her relationship with WWE. Counsel should therefore have no difficulty producing these affidavits within 35 days.” If we did not produce the affidavits the court would dismiss the claims and award sanctions.

Despite the undertone of derision towards Mr. Kyros, and an almost impossible deadline- try getting 60 affidavits from anyone in 35 days never mind from 60 professional wrestlers! BUT finally a chance to talk directly and explain to the Judge that the allegations were real, made in good faith and very important to understand the factual basis of each of the wrestlers legal claims.

The wrestlers all came through and we were able to get all of the affidavits and file them with the Court by near-impossible to meet 35 day deadline! We worked together round the clock all October to get it done!

But last week the court on September 17, 2018 ruled against the wrestlers anyway with little to no mention of the affidavits other than reciting the order to deliver them and confirming that they were submitted.

On page 36 of last week’s order dismissing the lawsuit the court writes: “In addition to these irrelevant allegations*  are numerous others, including a list of physical injuries that have nothing to do with concussions or head trauma, incurred by several Plaintiffs in the ring. [See SAC Paragraph 37 alleging that “Plaintiff Jon Heidenreich sustained serious shoulder injuries requiring multiple surgeries” and that ; Plaintiff Marty Jannetty sustained a severe broken ankle”]

* The other irrelevant allegations the court lists includes: “WWE is a monopoly that earns $500 million annually” “general observations from… a wrestler who is not a party to this lawsuit” [This is Jessie Ventura, you know the former Governor of Minnesota saying such irrelevancies as “Wrestling operated under some of the most unfair working conditions in the country. I don’t know how they got away with it for so many years”  Can anyone reading imagine how they got away with it?] and “WWE does not provide wrestlers with health insurance” Which the court referred to as a non-exhaustive list.

Below is the actual passage from the wrestlers lawsuit, the court calls “irrelevant allegations” and calls “a list of physical injuries that have nothing to do with concussions or head trauma,” As the astute reader will observe the lawsuit drafters appear to have found some examples to illustrate that the plaintiff wrestlers sustained some rather serious injuries some just possibly related to the head while wrestling.

According to an introductory section summarizing the claims at the beginning of the Wrestlers Lawsuit: “Other plaintiffs have documented serious injuries to their head, back, neck and shoulders from their WWE wrestling careers. These permanent injuries are strongly suggestive of past traumatic head injuries and evidence the WWE’s actual past and ongoing notice and awareness of the risk of long-term neurological issues.

I. Plaintiff Terry Brunk twice broke his neck in an ECW matches, and once broke his jaw;

II. Plaintiff Bryan Emmett Clark has had neck and back disc replacements and repair surgeries from injuries sustained in WWE matches;

III. Plaintiff Mark Canterbury sustained fractured C-7 vertebrae in a WWE match;

IV. Plaintiff Salvador Guerrero IV sustained a Subarachnoid hemorrhage in a WWE match. He also sustained an orbital bone fracture to his skull in a WWE match;

V. Plaintiff Barry Darsow sustained cracked vertebrae in a WWE match;

VI. Plaintiff Earl Hebner experienced brain bleeding shortly after being struck in the head with a metal suitcase refereeing a WWE match;

VII. Plaintiff Michael Halac sustained injuries to his cervical spine resulting in neck fusion surgery in a WWE match;

VIII. Plaintiff Jon Heidenreich sustained serious shoulder injuries requiring multiple surgeries from a WWE in-ring injury;

IX. Plaintiff Joe Laurinaitis sustained herniated two discs in his neck in a WWE match;

X. Plaintiff Shane Douglas sustained a fracture in his spine in a WWE event;

XI.  Plaintiff Vickie Otis sustained two cracked vertebrae in a WWE match;

XII. Plaintiff Sylvain Grenier sustained broken vertebrae in a WWE match;

XIII. Plaintiff Terry Szopinksi herniated two discs during his tenure at WWE;

XIV. Plaintiff Marty Jannetty sustained a severe broken ankle in a WWE match;

XV. Plaintiff Ashley Massaro herniated discs in C4 and C5 vertebrae in a WWE event.

These look like irrelevant allegations? “that have nothing to do with concussions or head trauma”!? As the Plaintiffs state these allegations are not irrelevant but go to the heart of the factual dispute in the case- namely what knowledge did WWE have about the long term health risks the plaintiffs would face as well as the more obvious fact that they ran an unsafe, unregulated workplace with no OSHA oversight in violation of labor laws by not providing workers compensation and so forth. Keep walking nothing to see here…

Btw we will have More on the inclusion of Marty’s ankle in another post.

X-Pac Versus Kyros: WWE Calls In Heavy Guns

The photo with Jon Heidenreich in the above post was taken at Legends of the Ring Fan Fest in New Jersey when I drove down to meet some of the wrestlers I already represented. This was rather too much for the WWE, their spies are everywhere! and they trotted out X-Pac to swear out his own weak affidavit in an attempt to discredit Mr. Kyros- the leading advocate for wrestlers legal rights, “I also learned that Mr. Kyros was handing his business card to former WWE wrestlers.” It is an emergency! Get X-Pac involved to stop the wrestlers, they are forming a union! they are talking to lawyers about their legal rights! Learning about CTE! It is a crisis!

Read Mr. Sean Waltman’s Stooge Affidavit by clicking on Image below.

Kyros Was There, It Was Definitely Him

MY FRIENDS: DO NOT DESPAIR. WE ARE APPEALING

Today a single Federal Judge ruled against the 60 wrestlers and their families in the Laurinaitis case, and ignored their many personal appeals in dozens of affidavits filed with the court. We will have more to say soon, but please keep positive and know that we are fighting every day to get help for everyone.  Here is a very brief statement:

“I stand for professional wrestlers who face the prospect of losing their identity and consciousness to the effects of a latent occupational disease that robs them of their sanity, comfort of their families and memories of everything they achieved entertaining the millions of people who love them.

The lawsuits include some of the world’s most famous athletes including those diagnosed with CTE by the world’s foremost expert in CTE, including Jimmy Snuka and Mr. Fuji, whose brains were studied because of our advocacy and dedication to getting help for former WWE performers.

The opinions expressed in today’s decision about my strong advocacy are inaccurate, bizarre and unworthy of the court. The reasoning of the opinion itself is flimsy as the court finds, in ignorance of the facts, that there is no reasonable basis for the assertions, despite a substantial body of medical peer reviewed literature going back almost a hundred years. In any event these are Jury issues as the plaintiffs demonstrated that the WWE knew about the risks of head injuries long before the 2007 date the court invents (see Dr. Omalu’s Quote above). Additionally the WWE misclassified, exploited, injured these people in violation of labor laws and continues to ignore that CTE even exists in professional wrestling. It is a sad ruling, and we trust the wrestlers claims will be better received in the appeals courts. I will continue to fight and advocate for wrestlers’ legal rights despite this tragic opinion that attempts to cast down my clients’ hopes for better lives.”

Sincerely,
Konstantine Kyros

NFL Case. WWE Attorney Jerry McDevitt’s Unusual Outbursts About Kyros’ Representation of NFL Players

After winning this round of the dismissal of the 60 plaintiffs claims in the Laurinatis case, WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt was not cheerful about the outcome, after reading the wrestlers lawyers statement he called for Mr. Kyros to be Disbarred and added this odd quote: “This is the same kind of drivel Kyros pawned off on former wrestlers when soliciting them to sue WWE by false statements that he had obtained a billion dollar settlement for NFL players and would do the same for wrestlers, when in fact he had absolutely nothing to do with getting that settlement,” said McDevitt…. Frankly, he should be disbarred.”

 It is unclear what led Mr. McDevitt to bring up comparisons with the successful outcome in the NFL Settlement. The contrasts between the WWE and NFL treatment of their former athletes would probably be best avoided by Mr. McDevitt. As many of Mr. Kyros’ NFL player clients have already received substantial compensation from settlement payments, and Mr. Kyros WWE wrestlers claims which on their face are much more compelling than the NFL situation, have received zilch. So the optics are not really that great for WWE on this point.

Kyros Law represents hundreds of former NFL players in the NFL settlement, including players diagnosed with CTE, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and ALS. (this is partial list which was an 2015 Notice to the Court of some of the players)

Below is Video of WWE’s Attorney Asking Vito LoGrasso about Mr. Kyros’ Role in the NFL Settlement.  The answer under oath seems to contradict Mr. McDevitt’s: patently false, nonsensical, irrelevant, baseless, inaccurate, frivolous [or simply insert your own synonym] assertions that Mr. Kyros lied to everyone about any role in the NFL settlement.
Here is a screen shot of the ECF docket after Mr. Kyros filed his notice of appearance for 185 of the players.

Suicide Attempts, Murder Suicides, CTE Studies. Court: No Remedy at Law, WWE: Not Really our Concern

Only few days before the Dismissal of the Laurinaitis plaintiffs’ claims, the plaintiffs in the Singleton, Lograsso case filed this response to WWE’s continued attempts to collect $176,000+ dollars against Attorney Kyros for advocating for WWE wrestlers. The WWE’s motion accused Mr. Kyros of committing a “fraud on the court,” “dishonesty,” and “wrongdoing,” and pointed to social media of Evan Singleton bodybuilding and competing in a strongman competition.

Kyros’ Sur- Reply to WWE’s REPLY to Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to WWE’s Motion for Fees
Read Document here by clicking on text below:

Not Forgotten: Former WWF Enhancement Talent, Don Driggers Wins Disability Hearing

Donald Driggers, a former mid 1980s “enhancement” wrestler who is currently a plaintiff in the pending WWE Laurinaitis Lawsuit recently was awarded disability.  At age 55, it has been determined that Mr. Driggers injuries and health no longer enable him to work. With the help of Kyros Law and his lawyers at Disability Justice LLC ( A Social Security Disability firm in PA), Don has been able to get at least some help to pay bills and get by. According to the pending federal lawsuit by 60 wrestlers, WWE has forgotten its former performers and does nothing to help them despite many long term occupational injuries related to their wrestler careers.

Instead of using a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and profits from the collective effort of the wrestlers who helped build WWE and whose past performances are a large source of ongoing revenue on the WWE network, the company has stated in court documents that it believes the claims in these cases are “frivolous” and resorts to accusing the attorneys, (including Don’s lawyer Konstantine Kyros) representing the wrestlers of “dishonesty” and “wrongdoing,” by filing their claims.

Donald: “I want to thank Mr. Kyros for helping me out, standing up for me, when no one else could or would. I was going through what one might call a mighty rough situation and he came through for me by getting in touch with these folks who got me disability on my first go round. Thank you for thinking of me, I feel that the world had got up and had just about forgotten me.”

Rockin’ Rebel’s Legal Dispute with WWE Before his Murder Suicide

Chuck Williams AKA Rockin’ Rebel, a former WWF, ECW, WCW wrestler who tragically shot and killed his wife before killing himself in a murder suicide apparently had legal disputes with the WWE in the years before his death. We have collected the brief exchange between Mr. Williams and WWE lawyers who corresponded with him. The dispute appears to center on Mr. Williams trade/service mark of his ring name “Rockin’ Rebel,” with Mr. Williams contending that the WWE was infringing it by rebroadcasting his old ECW matches presumably on the WWE network.

Mr. Williams as reported earlier on this blog died in manner strongly suggestive that he may have had CTE. And fortunately his brain has been donated to independent CTE researchers unaffiliated with Chris Nowinski, BU or WWE whose conflicts have come under scrutiny. Chris Benoit who died in similar circumstances was also studied for CTE and found to have the disease which the experts concluded was linked to his violent behavior. No other media outlet has reported his brain donation for CTE. Nor has WWE, Boston University Doctors or Chris Nowinski commented or publicly noted and made the obvious parallels to Mr. Williams and his wife’s tragic death to CTE and the earlier Benoit murder suicide despite the fact of his impending brain study and obvious similarities to the terrible events. If CTE can trigger people to harm their families and themselves is this not an important public health issue that WWE should be out in front especially with the millions of dollars WWE are giving to Chris Nowinski to study CTE in NFL football players? WWE has decided to ignore this health crisis and instead focused on making the issue about the lawyers such as Mr. Kyros who are coordinating wrestlers brains for CTE research and who seeking the Courts help to get medical monitoring, care and treatment specifically directed to WWE wrestlers.

Click here to read some of the emails between the late Mr. Williams regarding his intellectual property dispute with the friendly WWE lawyers who are always seemingly looking out for wrestlers rights.

 

 

WWE Attorney Jerry McDevitt Insults Vito’s Attorney, After Trying Ask About Privileged Attorney-Client Conversations With Kyros

During Vito LoGrasso’s deposition testimony things get a bit feisty when WWE Attorney Jerry McDevitt attempts to trick Vito into answering questions about conversations he had with his attorney, Konstantine Kyros.  When Mr. McDevitt is called out on his line of questioning he resorts to insulting the lawyer from Pogust Braslow and Millrood LLC defending the deposition. Note: A witness can unknowingly waive attorney-client privilege if they simply answer the questions. The privilege protecting communications is not automatic, it must be exercised. After his first attempts, Mr. McDevitt then skillfully probes to see if he can get answers to questions about communications ‘before’ he hired Kyros (which are also protected but some lawyers may not know that privilege attaches in these situations and could also be waived if Vito had answered). The goal of course is central to WWE’s defense: Attack Konstantine Kyros- the leading voice of professional wrestlers legal rights rather than address the head injury crisis in WWE wrestlers. The WWE spent many millions of dollars defending Vito and Evan’s claims over and above the actual damages and medical help that Vito and Evan sought. The currently pending Laurinaitis case with 60 wrestlers makes some of the same requests including for families of deceased wrestlers now found to have CTE due to the efforts of Kyros and his team.

Unwritten Laws in the WWE Universe? Code of Silence, Kayfabe & Under-Reporting Wrestling Injuries.

The currently pending WWE lawsuit forcefully argues that WWE used its culture to silence injured wrestlers, maintain control over them and avoid legal duties to the injured wrestlers.

The wrestlers plaintiffs all contend that the culture of WWE fostered under-reporting of their injuries. The thread of these arguments appears throughout the WWE lawsuit (which is called a complaint). In the 225-page document, many of the wrestlers personal statements appear on this issue particularly in the Section called ‘WWE’s Ironclad Control: Kayfabe: The Legacy of the Wrestling Code of Silence’ which is on pages 75-79. Perry Saturn’s voice is typical: “At WWF it was an unspoken rule that you wrestled hurt.”

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that medical professionals that have studied self-reporting of injuries in sports have found that the phenomena of under-reporting is a widespread problem.

A cursory survey of the literature seems to confirm that studied athletes face pressure to “play through the pain,” even absent the extreme coercive workplace narratives presented by the WWE plaintiffs.

Medical literature has also studied athletes knowledge of concussions, using something called a, “Concussion Knowledge Index,” which highlights the notion that athletes may or may not comprehend what a head injury is and presumably manage that risk inadequately.

For example scholarly articles on the subject:
“Concussion under-reporting and pressure from coaches, teammates, fans, and parents.” Published in 2015 by Researchers (Kroshus, Garnett, Hawrilenko, Baugh and Calzo)

The study: “quantifies the pressure that athletes experience to continue playing after a head impact—from coaches, teammates, parents, and fans” The study concludes in part: “one-quarter of the sample had experienced pressure from at least one source to continue playing after a head impact during the previous year.” The studies “findings underscore the importance of designing interventions that address the system in which athletes make decisions about concussion reporting, including athletes’ parents, rather than focusing solely on modifying the individual’s reporting cognitions.”

A related 2015 study in the Journal of Athletic Training:
“Pressure on Sports Medicine Clinicians to Prematurely Return Collegiate Athletes to Play After Concussion.” This article (shockingly) concluded: “Most clinicians reported experiencing pressure to prematurely return athletes to participation after a concussion.”

Another 2016 Journal of Athletic Training article: “Playing Through It”: Delayed Reporting and Removal From Athletic Activity After Concussion Predicts Prolonged Recovery” makes key points among which are: “A substantial number of athletes did not immediately recognize or report concussion symptoms. Athletes who delay reporting concussion symptoms are at risk for protracted recoveries. Not engaging the medical staff and continuing to participate in athletic activity during the immediate postconcussion period potentially exposes the athlete’s already injured brain to additional neuronal stress that can compound injury neuropathophysiologic processes.”

These few studies, findings and articles found in a very brief online search are among dozens on the subject that tend to provide hard science support to the claims made by the wrestlers. As such the contested facts of the WWE lawsuit are clearly in the realm of expert witnesses who can attest to the likely veracity of the dozens of wrestlers claims.

It seems quite likely that wrestler having reached “the top” of their career in WWE faced immeasurably greater pressures than young athletes faced from their parents or coaches. And it seems likely that WWE hired doctors like Dr. Rios or Dr. Unger may have faced pressures to prematurely return a wrestler to the ring. These are some of the factual issues, once explored that can help produce a ‘just’ result to remedy a long-term issue in pro-wrestling.

In the Vito LoGrasso lawsuit some of these issues were discussed in Vito’s deposition testimony resulting in this interesting exchange between WWE’s Lawyer Mr. McDevitt and Big Vito. Who do you think is more likely stating facts closer to the truth? Do Unwritten Laws exist in the WWE Universe?