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WWE'S LATEST MOVE IN THE CONCUSSION LAWSUIT

By Mike Johnson on 2016-07-12 13:20:00

The Boston Globe reported yesterday that as part of their defense against the lawsuit brought against them by Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton, WWE has filed for a subpeona on the research Dr. Bennet Omalu has on professional wrestlers when it comes to the diagnosis of CTE via post-mortem examination of their brains.   The Globe article notes that WWE is specifically interested in the research that led to the announcement that Chris Benoit was suffering from CTE before he took the lives of his wife, son and himself over the course of a weekend in June 2007.

Omalu's findings were the first that a pro wrestler was suffering from CTE and were widely publicized by his then-partner (and former WWE performer) Chris Nowinski, which helped raise the profile of both the disease and Nowinski's foundation.  Omalu and Nowinski later parted ways.   Several other leading doctors backed Omalu's findings at the time.

Omalu's story was told in the feature film "Concussion" with Will Smith playing Omalu.  Nowinski was not featured in the film in any way.  The article noted that Nowinski learned that Omalu was taking brains and doing research in his garage.  Omalu stated he was doing so in order to self-fund his research and protect his own intellectual property when it came to the research findings.  Still, Nowinski claimed in his book "Head Games" that Omalu had claimed publicly to be speaking to the spirits of those he was researching.  Nowinski declined to comment to The Globe on whether that had any bearing on his he later felt about the Benoit findings.

WWE is seeking the research in an attempt to discredit the findings as they continue to battle a lawsuit from LoGrasso and former developmental talent Singleton.  Most of the claims in the lawsuit have been dismissed, although one remaining claim  - onealleging that in 2005, WWE "became aware of and failed to disclose to its wrestlers information concerning a link between repeated head trauma and permanent degenerative neurological conditions" - was allowed to move forward.    Since WWE had created it's Wellness Policy and LoGrasso and Singleton had wrestled during that period, the court ruled it was within reason that there was a possibility that WWE had a "greater knowledge" of the dangers via information cultivated via Wellness Policy data.  So the court is allowing that aspect of the case to move forward so the matter can be determined. 

The article noted that WWE's moves put Nowinski, a former associate of Omalu, in a difficult position as he relied on Omalu's research to help build his Concussion Legacy Foundation, but is now sponsored (post-split with Omalu) in part by WWE, with Triple H sitting on the board of the Foundation.  If the research is discredited, it puts Nowinski in a bad place as he relied on it to help publicize his Foundation.

The article noted that Omalu has been given permission to research the brains of Joanie "Chuna" Laurer, Brian "Axl Rotten" Knighton and John "Balls Mahoney" Rechner to see if there is any evidence of CTE and that should those examinations prove that to be correct, it could hurt WWE's case.

To read the complete article, click here.

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