World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and its CEO, Vince McMahon, have fought back against 67 retired wrestlers who appealed the dismissal of their concussion lawsuit.
Beginning in 2014, these former wrestlers filed lawsuits against WWE, arguing that the organization failed to protect their health, which resulted in concussions, CTE, and other brain injuries. In September 2018, the Connecticut District Court dismissed the lawsuit as many of the plaintiffs stopped wrestling before WWE was aware of the risks of head trauma. The attorney for the plaintiffs, Konstantine Kyros, was sanctioned for failing to adequately respond to interrogatories.
Following the dismissal, the wrestlers appealed to the Second Circuit. WWE submitted an 83-page brief to the Second Circuit, arguing that the Connecticut District Court was correct in dismissing the case.
WWE argued that 66 of the 67 wrestlers’ claims were time-barred, as they stopped wrestling years, if not decades, before the initial lawsuits were filed. For the remaining wrestler, WWE argued that his claim was rightfully dismissed since he attended a meeting on the risks of head injuries, including CTE, before he was injured.
In addition, WWE argued that the plaintiffs failed to show that WWE knew about the links between wrestling and brain injuries, like CTE, before the 2007 death of wrestler Chris Benoit. WWE also argued that Benoit’s CTE diagnosis put wrestlers on notice about the link between CTE and wrestling. They further argued that the plaintiffs’ claims failed to show any specific wrongdoing, false statements, or evidence that WWE was concealing specific knowledge it had.
WWE’s lengthy brief addressed a number of additional claims made by the plaintiffs, including misclassification as independent contractors, wrongful death suits, Family and Medical Leave Act claims, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims. Kyros also appealed the sanctions levied against him, to which WWE stated that the district court did not abuse its discretion and that the Second Circuit lacked jurisdiction over the appeal.