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Head Injuries Suit Against WWE Goes to Supreme Court

Former wrestlers have lost in lower court rulings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 18, 2021 4:45 PM CST
Head Injuries Suit Against WWE Goes to Supreme Court
Former professional wrestler Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka leaves Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, Pa., in 2015.   (Michael Kubel/The Morning Call via AP, File)

Dozens of former pro wrestlers who claimed in lawsuits that World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from repeated head injuries are taking their case to the US Supreme Court. A lawyer for the former wrestlers, most of them stars in the 1980s and '90s, filed a request late Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to hear appeals of lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits. Those courts said the suits were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations expired, the AP reports. Among the plaintiffs were Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff, Chris "King Kong Bundy" Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, known as Mr. Fuji. They said they suffered repeated head injuries, including concussions that led to long-term brain damage, and accused the WWE of knowing of the risks of head injuries but not warning its wrestlers. The WWE continues to deny the allegations and says the lawsuits are without merit, a spokesperson said Thursday.

Snuka and Fujiwara died in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, after their deaths, their lawyer said. Pallies and Laurinaitis died in 2019 and 2020, respectively, of undisclosed causes. Other plaintiffs have dementia and other illnesses, the lawsuit said. More than 50 former wrestlers filed lawsuits against the WWE. The lawyer for the former wrestlers said they have been “deprived of their fundamental rights as US Citizens, including their right to appeal.” Unlike football and hockey, in which players have suffered similar injuries, WWE matches involve moves scripted and choreographed by the WWE, thus making the company directly responsible for wrestlers’ injuries, the lawsuits said. The National Football League and National Hockey League were also sued by former players who suffered concussions and other head injuries. The NFL settled for $1 billion, while the NHL settled for $18.9 million.

(More WWE stories.)

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