PWInsider - WWE News, Wrestling News, WWE

 
 

WWE CONCUSSION & BAGWELL LAWSUIT UPDATES

By Mike Johnson on 2016-09-30 13:28:00

WWE gained a small victory on 9/27 in the United States District Court of Connecticut when a ruling was made transferring the massive class action lawsuit filed against them by scores of former performers in July under the jurisdiction of Judge Vanessa L. Bryant.

That class action lawsuit against WWE, filed by over 50 former WWE performers (some of whom were never under contract and appeared in enhancement roles on TV), including lead plaintiff Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis, in the Federal Court in New Haven, CT alleged that the company hid their knowledge of medical conditions, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, from the wrestlers because the-then WWF "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."  

WWE requested the class action lawsuit be transferred to Judge Bryant, as she had been overseeing the other previous lawsuits and had consolidated them, noting her history of overseeing the case and previously writing opinions and judgments on the WWE concussion-related lawsuits.    Given her familiarity with the case and the fact that she has previously shot down claims made by clients represented by Konstantine Kyros (not to mention that Bryant has reprimanded him in court previously), WWE wanted Bryant overseeing the case to prevent having to run back over ground that was already covered in previous lawsuits.  They have gotten that wish, although what Bryant will be open to going back over in court remains to be seen.

On 9/28, WWE also filed a request for another lawsuit, the class action suit brought against them by former WWF and WCW performer Marcus Bagwell and Scott "Raven" Levy, to also be transferred to Bryant's courtroom.  That lawsuit alleges they and other performers are owed royalties from usage of material featuring their matches on the WWE Network because they were receiving royalties for that same material when it was released on DVD,  that "emerging technologies" were covered under royalties in their then-WWF contracts, and that the streaming technology has effectively replaced that revenue source.

WWE's argument for the transfer of Bagwell/Levy case to Judge Bryant is that the Plaintiffs' lawyers are filing multiple suits featuring "overlapping groups of plaintiffs represented by the same lawyer to extract additional royalty compensation from WWE related to their performances" and since it is the same representation of the same class suing WWE over similar issues, it should all be compacted under Judge Bryant as a related case.  No ruling has been made in that regard.

Previous lawsuits against WWE involving Billy Jack Haynes, Ryan Sakoda, Russ McCullough and Matthew "Luther Reigns" Wiese have all been dismissed (all are currently appealing that decision) while a lawsuit brought by Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton saw all of their claims against WWE tossed from court, with the exception of one claim - one alleging 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 in 2005 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 has allowed that aspect of the case to move forward so the matter can be determined, although depositions involving the Plaintiffs in that case have revealed holes in those claims. 

If you enjoy PWInsider.com you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more, right now for THREE DAYS free by clicking here!