WWE was recently slapped with another lawsuit. This is nothing new for the sports entertainment organization. Due to that, they have a great team of lawyers that typically help them get out of situations. It is not uncommon to see WWE in the news for stuff like this, as past WWE talent who do tend to sue typically are out of money. You have some occasions where talent will sue over no-compete clauses being dropped, like the recent cases of former WWE Supertstars Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk. However, the usual case it from past talent over health issues caused during their time.
Former WWE talent Big Vito and Adam Mercer decided to sue WWE over past health issues caused by their run in WWE. They claim that WWE put them in harms way by making them wrestle with “inadequate rest.” Another claims that he suffers from major neurological symptoms today due to his WWE run. This is tough to fully put on WWE, as many people do not tend to stop wrestling once they are released from WWE. In the case of Vito, it is tough especially to claim WWE is the main cause of his problem as he did wrestle after his WWE release for some time.
Both cases are the exact same as Billy Jack Haynes case that he brought up a couple months back. It is not surprising, as they are all represented by the same lawyer. WWE realized this and took notice of the claims made by Mercer and Vito. WWE Lawyer Jerry McDevitt claimed in a statement today.
“This lawsuit is virtually identical to one filed by the same lawyers in Oregon, neither of which have any merit. WWE has never concealed any medical information related to concussions, or otherwise, from our Talent. WWE was well ahead of sports organizations in implementing concussion management procedures and policies as a precautionary measure as the science and research on this issue emerged. We will vigorously contest this lawsuit.”
What is interesting about McDevitt’s claims is that it is completely true. WWE has been ahead of major sports organizations such as UFC, the NFL, and the NHL in health research and safety. WWE began to change wrestling styles up in the early 2000’s to keep talent safe. While WWE has always had a certain style, they began to develop it into a safe style that wrestlers can do for a longer period of time. Talent are able to mix in their styles along with it, but the base is always the same.
WWE has also been ahead when it comes to concussion research. For the longest time, the NFL never wanted to claim that the game caused problems with the brain. In reality, it has. Meanwhile the WWE realized after research that they were needing to take a big look at head injuries. In fact, WWE Executive Triple H sits on the board of the Sports Legacy Institute. SLI was founded by former WWE Superstar Christopher Nowinski.
Many believe WWE changed things up out of simple need. Many pro-wrestlers passed away from drug issues which had to do with them being in pain. WWE drug screens people often to make sure they are clean.
WWE wants to fight these claims for good reason. The fact that they have changed things a lot since 2000 is a big deal, but WWE more so implemented changes in 2005 and beyond after the death of WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero. They then put things in turbo after the Chris Benoit incident. WWE is unable to withhold any major medical information due to being a publicly traded company, so we know if a talent tests positive for anything and even where money goes.
WWE has focused greatly on talent safety, but some things have been problematic. Such as the case of CM Punk where he had an undiagnosed staph infection for months.
At the end of the day however, WWE does not make people sign contracts. They are well known for their brutal schedule as well as difficulty to even make it in the company. So a person knows all of this from day one. That being said, it is tough for people to sue over certain things knowing the risks. What is also interesting is that only retired or unemployed talent seem to be going after WWE in this case. That is something WWE will probably exploit greatly. We’ll have more on this as it becomes available.
[IMG Credit: anotherwrestingguy.com, sports keeda]