A federal appeals court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by 50 former pro-wrestlers, many of whom were stars in the 1980s and 1990s. They claimed World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from repeated head injuries, including concussions that resulted in long-term brain damage.
The U.S. 2nd Court of Appeals in New York City agreed with a Connecticut federal judge who dismissed the lawsuits two years ago, saying many of the claims were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations. Stamford, Connecticut-based WWE denied the suit's allegations.
Plaintiffs included Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff ", Chris" King Kong Bundy "Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, known as Mr. Fuji.
Snuka and Fujiwara died in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy [CTE] after their death, according to their attorney. Pallies died last year for reasons unknown. Other plaintiffs have dementia and other diseases, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, which also cited WWE Chairman Vince McMahon as a defendant, said the organization knew the risks of head injuries, but did not warn wrestlers. However, Hartford District Judge Vanessa Bryant said there was no evidence WWE knew that concussions or head blows caused CTE during wrestling matches.
Former wrestlers 'attorney, Konstantine Kyros, of Hingham, Massachusetts, called the verdict "a stamp" of Bryant's decision and "completely devoid of any original reasoning or dispute with the legal issues raised in the wrestlers' appeal."
"In his final allegations, the injured wrestlers find no justice that was literally denied a day in court," Cyrus wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Under this mandate, wrestlers have no rights, no rights to bring a lawsuit, no rights to assist WWE with CTE and head injuries, no rights to misclassified employees, no rights to a jury and, ironically, no right to appeal at all ! "
The 2nd Circuit on Wednesday also dismissed several similar lawsuits by former wrestlers against the WWE for head injuries, saying their appeal was filed too late.
The Court of Appeal further dismissed Cyrus' appeal against Bryant's sanctions. In her 2018 ruling, Bryant criticized Kyros for repeated failure to comply with court rules and orders and asked him to pay WWE's legal fees, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Unlike soccer and hockey, which has players sustained similar injuries, WWE games involve moves written and choreographed by the WWE, placing the company directly responsible for the wrestlers' injuries, the lawsuit said.
The National Football League and National Hockey League were also sued by former players who suffered concussions and other head injuries. The NFL settled for $ 1 billion while the NHL settled for $ 18.9 million.