WWE Concussion Lawsuits Filed By 53 Former Wrestlers

A large group of former professional wrestlers have filed a class action lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and it’s owner Vince McMahon, claiming that they suffered concussions, traumatic brain damage and other head injuries due to scripted moves provided by the company and a lack of safety precautions.

The complaint (PDF) was brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on July 18, involving claims on behalf of at least 53 plaintiffs, including former famous pro wrestlers Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Ordndorf, and Chris Pallies, a.k.a. King Kong Bundy.

According to the concussion class class action lawsuit, the WWE failed to protect its employees or warn them of the risks of head injury, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a condition involving severe brain damage caused by repeated head trauma.

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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was brought to national attention when former WWE wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife, his son and then himself in 2007. He was diagnosed with CTE after he died, and it is believed that CTE from years of wrestling played a role in his crimes and suicide.

“The wrestling moves that involve the occupational head trauma that causes CTE and associated diseases from the accumulated effects of TBIs are the result of wrestling moves and maneuvers that were performed ‘correctly’ by the Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states. “In other words, the head trauma that has resulted in injury is the accumulated effect of many impacts to the Plaintiffs’ heads that occurred on a regular, routine basis during their WWE career.”

All of the retired wrestlers pursuing claim in the lawsuit indicate that they have suffered neurological injuries that were the result of simply participating in WWE matches.

“WWE wrestling matches, unlike other contact sports, involve very specific moves that are scripted, controlled, directed and choreographed by WWE,” according to the complaint. “As such the moves that resulted in Named Plaintiffs’ head injuries were the direct result of the WWE’s actions.”

The lawsuit indicates that the WWE has been aware of findings on the effects and causes of CTE since at least 2007, but instead attacked and questioned those findings. The lawsuit notes that since then more than 100 wrestlers have died, many likely due to CTE, which can lead to suicide, drug overdoses and other self injurious behavior.

Traumatic Brain Injury Risks

Research published in 2014 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry concluded survivors of TBI may be three times more likely to face a premature death. In fact, TBI has lasting long-term effects and patients may take longer to recover and may face an early death as a result.

A study published in 2014 in the journal Radiology found that men are more vulnerable to suffering TBI than women and may take longer to recover following a traumatic brain injury.

Approximately 70% of sports related TBIs reported among persons ages 0 to 19. The largest number of TBIs among males occurred while bicycling, playing football and basketball. Among females the largest number of TBIs occurred while bicycling, during playground activities and while horseback riding.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability worldwide, with 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffering a head injury each year. Such brain damage often result in a victim requiring extensive medical treatment and permanent around-the-clock care.

The lawsuit indicates that the WWE and McMahon have a legal duty to provide compensation to the wrestlers and the lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.


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