WWE is already busy on the legal front dealing with lawsuits from Billy Jack Haynes, Big Vito and Viscera's widow claiming the company is culpable in those former wrestler's health issues, and assisting Dr. Chris Amman in his suit against CM Punk in order to defend the medical care they provide to workers.
We can add three more names to the list, as former developmental talents Russ McCullough and Ryan Sakoda are named along with Smackdown wrestler Luther Reigns as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed against the company, TMZ reports.
While similar in nature to the previous suits mentioned above, both in complaints and in the obvious issue that all three men were only with WWE briefly and engaged in pro wrestling or other high-impact athletic activity before or after their time in Vince McMahon's employ, some of the language is different and there is a new provision which seems designed to trigger a quick response from the company.
The specifics of the complaint, from a copy of the document procured by our own Keith Harris, involve:
- egregious mistreatment of its [WWE's]wrestlers for its own benefit, as well as concealment and denial of medical research and evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries suffered by WWE wrestlers
- disavowing, concealing, and preventing any medical care for these head injuries after they were sustained
- chosing to actively deceive wrestlers and encourage them to continue to wrestle despite long term health risks
- subjecting its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused created latent conditions and long term irreversible bodily damage, including brain damage
- being in the business of selling violence
- deliberately creating and heightening the violence of its matches in order to "heat" up audiences and increase its profits
- forcing its wrestlers to engage in activities and subject themselves to danger in a manner that dramatically increases (often to a near-certainty) their chances of sustaining brain damage
- medical professionals associated with WWE have negligently or purposefully failed to diagnose concussions
- routinely profiting from, and glorifing, these injuries
Financial compensation for medical expenses and lost earnings are the main form of relief requested.
The new wrinkle is that the case specifically calls out a number of maneuvers, such as the Brain Buster, Bulldog, Cobra Clutch Slam, Facebreaker, Jawbreaker and Powerslam, as well as chair shots to the head, which the company actually banned in 2010 and "asks for an injunction, prohibiting the WWE from subjecting its wrestlers to such brutality". Such a move could cause WWE's lawyers to respond more quickly than they have to other complaints, including possibly via settlement.
All three men have had documented issues with the company in the past. McCullough, a former National Football League offensive lineman, allegedly quit after getting some chair shots from Rikishi in response to a punch the Hall of Famer thought was a little too stiff. Sakada was reportedly fired following a back injury, and Reigns has alleged that wrestling's drug culture was a contributing factor in his 2010 stroke.
Regardless of merit, the suit and whatever press coverage it draws adds to the public relations problem WWE has with regards to traumatic brain injury, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the company's treatment of those issues and the ways its contracted employees self-medicate in the absence of company assistance.
More as we have it, Cagesiders. What do you make of the latest case again Vince McMahon and company? Are these suits a problem for WWE?