A lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) was filed earlier this week, with more than 50 plaintiffs blaming the organization for neurological injuries they suffered caused by performing in the WWE’s wrestling rings.
The lawsuit also accuses the WWE, and its founder Vince McMahon, of classifying wrestlers as independent contractors instead of employees in order to bypass workers’ compensation laws, thereby avoiding any liability for the multitude of injuries suffered by wrestlers over the past four decades.
Specifically, the lawsuit reads, “WWE placed corporate gain over its wrestlers’ health, safety, and financial security, choosing to leave the plaintiffs severely injured and with no recourse to treat their damaged minds and bodies.”In the suit, the WWE is accused of hiding the long-term neurological damage left by traumatic brain injuries – i.e. concussions – that were commonplace during wrestling matches. These injuries often occurred even during bouts that were choreographed by the organization.
Unlike other lawsuits filed against the WWE in the past, which were dismissed, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit include many well-known and popular wrestling performers. Some of the cognitive difficulties shared by the group include confusion, depression, dizziness, headaches, memory loss and mood swings.
One of the plaintiffs suffers from Parkinson’s disease, believed to have been triggered by the number of TBIs he suffered while working as a referee. Another plaintiff has been charged with the 1983 murder of his then-girlfriend, but has recently been found to be not mentally competent to stand trial. His defense team blame the number of head traumas he suffered as a wrestler for causing the decline in his mental health.
Over the past few years, several other professional sport organizations have also been sued by former players because of the permanent damage they received as a result of head injuries they received while playing the sport.
More than 5,000 former professional football players sued the NFL, accusing that organization of fraud and cover-ups for the way they dealt with players’ head injuries. A $765 million settlement was announced in April of this year.
The NHL is facing similar accusations, as former players have begun filing lawsuits, with the same type of accusations. There are currently more than 100 former professional hockey players suing the organization.
Each day it seems we are learning more and more about the short and long term effects of repeated head trauma in sports, and it isn’t pretty. These issues are not just with professional athletes however, as many children and adults could be suffering from similar head trauma in their recreational or school sporting activities. While we are not saying all the effects will be as drastic was what we’ve seen above, it definitely is something to monitor.
If you or a family member has suffered from a work- or sports-related head injury, you should consult with an experienced North Carolina traumatic head injury attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have. Contact our firm for a free confidential consultation.