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 wrestler clients which on their face have much more compelling claims 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?

Brian Knighton’s Sad Letter, Tried WWE Drug Rehab….

Read Brian Knighton’s (AKA Axl Rotten) Letter To His Father and Step-Mom (click here). After Brian died his family decided and to donate his brain tissue for CTE research which revealed he had early stages of the disease. Before his death of a drug overdose, he was enrolled in WWE sponsored drug rehab. The previous post below about the potential evidence concealed within the WWE Rehab Program highlights importance of collecting and analyzing this WWE data so that researchers, medical experts and lawyers can work to solve the health crisis that has descended upon wrestling community.

You can also read the WWE’s letter from Ann Russo-Gordon about Brian’s treatment here.

WWE Rehab Program: Evidence of Workplace Injuries Linked to Drug Abuse and Overdose Deaths?

The Boston Globe ran an interesting front-page story last week (August 9, 2018) about a Massachusetts Public Health Department Report linking overdose deaths to the conditions faced by construction workers. The article highlights that risk factors in drug abuse can be studied and conclusions reached about the likely causes. These risk factors are a major issue in the wrestling community and in the claims made by the wrestlers in the pending lawsuit against the WWE.

The article, “Opioid Deaths tied to workplace injuries: Need to Stay on job while hurt cited in Mass. Report” states: “The Report… paints a disturbing picture of workers hurt on the job, taking addictive painkillers, and needing those painkillers to keep working at jobs they would otherwise lose. “

“A lack of job security and sick pay- often the case in high-injury occupations- were also factors linked to higher rates of overdose deaths, the study found.”

In other words injured workers without adequate treatment and rest may self medicate in order to continue working.

As anyone who has worked with professional wrestlers knows this is a prime concern expressed in the community for years. Nearly every professional wrestler will tell anyone willing to listen that wrestling promotions including the WWE- had inadequate policies about taking time off for injuries, enforced unwritten rules about being tough and performing through pain. Many wrestlers would turn to drugs and alcohol to manage their pain, endure the road schedule and would help them wrestle even while hurt.

This exploitative and dangerous practice (of allowing wrestlers to perform injured) fostered through various means is one of the workplace structural issues addressed in the pending lawsuit against the WWE.

The Wrestlers Claims:

For example the wrestlers like Plaintiff Bryan Clark AKA Adam Bomb states:
“Because of the work schedule my body had no time to heal, also while on the road I needed to stay in shape, eat right, and train in the gym, which was difficult.  I started getting injuries from the constant wear and tear on my body. The WWE schedule was called “the grind,” it was almost nonstop.”

Plaintiff Anthony Norris AKA Ahmad Johnson states:
“Most of the time I worked through being hurt or injured, but the fact that I had so many major injuries led to me being classified as “injury prone.” This designation he believed was meant to discourage him and other wrestlers from taking time to properly treat and recuperate from injuries.”

Plaintiff Bill Edie AKA Ax states:
“After an injury the referee or trainer might throw you a cold towel, you were expected to carry on with injuries, perform every day, you had to be ready to move on to the next city. The office did not give a damn if you were hurt unless it was going to impact the actual show.”

Statements like those above, that WWE ran an unsafe workplace and schedule are expressed in graphic personal experience by virtually every wrestler in the lawsuit. The frequency of the reports makes it hard to discount them or pretend that these are simply tall tales of disgruntled wrestlers (which is essentially WWE’s legal and factual position to the extent they bother to address these claims).

During Linda McMahon’s unsuccessful senate run in 2010 Lance Cade’s death became an issue, with his father telling the media the same story:

“His son had been injured on the job, requiring surgery on a shoulder last year and receiving a prescription for a knee injury in 2004. The younger McNaught [Cade] worked his way though pain as much as he could, his father said, because he and the other wrestlers were wary of taking time off to heal, believing that they would be quickly passed over in favor of other talent, and would have to begin the long, slow climb of their careers all over again.”

Interestingly, Chris Nowinski (before his Foundation received Millions in funding from WWE) sharply criticized the WWE over Lance Cade’s death saying: “They have an environment where it’s absolutely unsafe to work in that ring. They have no oversight into what actually happens in the ring, and “Luckily they have no media following them, so they’ve been able to get away with it. …” The WWE derided his qualifications and stated Nowinski’s comments that “WWE talent perform in matches 200 days a year in not factual.”

WWE Drug and Alcohol Rehab

In any event the WWE knows the truth about the likely causes of drug and alcohol abuse and has been non-publicly collecting the data about the high drug and alcohol abuse rates amongst pro wrestlers for over ten years through its internal alcohol and drug rehabilitation program.

The program evidences the extent that the WWE tracks former talent, it must maintain internal records on each wrestlers whereabouts (many move around quite a bit) and must constantly keep up with their changing addresses and even maintain contact with performers from the 1980s like Omar Mijares – indeed nearly all of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that the WWE mails them the offers each year.

The WWE’s own website stated it mailed 707 letters in 2014 and that roughly 10% of those that received the letter availed themselves of the offered programs. This alone is a sobering statistic and a rare public disclosure that standing alone invites serious scrutiny. Ten percent of WWE talent went to drug rehab?!? No one is looking at this? This level of detail appears to have been removed from the WWE’s website after the disclosure on the website came up in a very prominent way in the lawsuit. [if it is still online, please let us know]

The program was/is managed by WWE employees such as Ann Russo-Gordon and Robert Killar, who with an undisclosed amount of WWE resources, attempt to advise and help dozens of the wrestlers struggling with drug and alcohol (and likely CTE). Mr. Killar’s resume states that he has experience with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, so presumably he would be able to advise WWE about the likely causes of the tidal wave of abuse in the ranks of WWE talent.

Based on the WWE wrestlers claims made in the lawsuit (and the frequency with which they contact their lawyers), the call volume to the WWE office from struggling wrestlers must be quite high. Plaintiff’s counsel have been stonewalled (to date) from obtaining this information in the lawsuit.

The Letters, often sent by Vince McMahon himself state:

“Over the last ten years, an inordinate number of wrestlers have passed away. Some of those deaths may in part have been caused by drugs and alcohol. In an effort to prevent such tragedies in the future, the WWE is willing to pay for drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation at a certified treatment chosen by WWE for any performer with a prior WWE booking contract who may need this service.”

When asked in 2007 at the Oversight and Government Reform hearings what prompted the letter? McMahon Answered:

“Two words: public relations. That’s it. I do not feel any sense of responsibility for anyone of whatever their age is who has passed along and has bad habits and overdoses for drugs. Sorry, I don’t feel any responsibility for that. Nonetheless, that’s why we’re [sending the letter]. It is a magnanimous gesture.”

The flippant statement by Mr. McMahon shows not only indifference, but a total lack of awareness that the WWE’s employment practices, workplace structure, OSHA violations, internal culture and legal violations would eventually give rise to the many hundreds of millions in dollars in potential legal liabilities that he and the WWE are now currently facing in the Federal Courts.

The pending lawsuit against the WWE seeks access to this information in possession of the WWE in order to help prove the wrestlers claims about what the WWE knows, and the scope of its legal duties arising from the health crisis it helped to create.

According to the Massachusetts study, funded by the US Centers for Disease control construction workers were “six times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than other workers. “

A Boston University Professor, Leslie I. Borden commented that his research has shown that “injured workers die more frequently from drugs and suicide.”

In other words, University professors, researchers, and important studies conducted in public health, medicine and the scientific community have revealed what every wrestler already knows: exploitative workplaces kill people. Causes and effects have dimensions that can be studied, evaluated, measured with the goal of actually solving a problem and not hiding it in non-public programs whose stated goal is to provide “public relations.”

As a concrete example, within the last week a young 38-year-old wrestler named Brian Danovich passed away. Brian was well known for being on WWE’s show, “Tough Enough” wherein he was injured, but continued to compete. He was supposedly given a WWE developmental deal but didn’t last long. What is curious, and little known is that in a recent podcast, Mr. Danovich (someone who is identified as him) states that he was in a WWE sponsored rehab program for his addiction to pain killers.

Several of the wrestlers involved in the WWE lawsuit also attended the WWE sponsored drug and alcohol programs including Brian Knighton aka Axl Rotten who has was diagnosed at early stages of CTE after his untimely death of a drug overdose in a McDonald’s bathroom.

In the case of plaintiff Mark Canterbury, the WWE has argued in court documents that it has required wrestlers to waive all of their rights under state and Federal law protecting workers such as himself (as asserted in the lawsuit) in order to obtain the WWE sponsored drug and alcohol treatment. The lawsuit takes issue with this stated WWE policy and business practice, arguing that certain legal rights cannot be waived.

As anyone who has knowledge of professional wrestling knows the death rate among the boys and girls from drugs, alcohol, and suicide is staggering. This health crisis from wrestling related injuries (of all kinds including CTE) that is likely responsible for the frequency of drug and alcohol abuse (and deaths), tragically and cynically has been concealed by the WWE through attempted “public relations.” The WWE needs to be held legally responsible for its actions in creating this crisis, the WWE collected data from its programs needs to be examined and the WWE needs to be called to account for its role in concealing the wrestling health crisis.