The Portland Tribune reports that former WWE star Billy Jack Haynes is suing WWE in federal court for “egregious mistreatment of its wrestlers for its own benefit, as well as its concealment and denial of medical research and evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries suffered by WWE wrestlers.”
Hayes filed a 42 page lawsuit against WWE on Thursday. Hayes is asking the court to grant class-action status to his lawsuit for what his lawyers say could be 500 people who suffered injuries while performing in the WWE ring.
“Under the guise of providing ‘entertainment,’ WWE has, for decades, subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused long-term irreversible bodily damage, including brain damage,” according to the lawsuit filed by Portland attorneys Steve D. Larson and Joshua L. Ross of the firm Stoll Stoll Bernie Lokting & Schlachter.
“For most of its history, WWE has engaged in a campaign of misinformation and deception to prevent its wrestlers from understanding the true nature and consequences of the injuries they have sustained. WWE’s representations, actions, and inactions have caused its wrestlers to suffer from death, long-term debilitating injuries, lost profits, premature retirement, medical expenses, and other losses as alleged herein.”
In regards to the lawsuit, WWE issued the following statement to me this afternoon:
“Billy Jack Haynes performed for WWE from 1986-1988. His filed lawsuit alleges that WWE concealed medical information and evidence on concussions during that time, which is impossible since the condition now called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) had not even been discovered. 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. Current WWE procedures include ImPACT testing for brain function, annual educational seminars and the strict prohibition of deliberate and direct shots to the head. Additionally, WWE has committed significant funding for concussion research conducted by the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), leaders in concussion research, and WWE Executive Vice President Paul Levesque sits on SLI’s Board.”
No court date has been set for the case.
This summer, WWE stockholder Curtis Swanson sued WWE, Vince McMahon and WWE CFO George Barrios on behalf of himself and “all others similarly situated”. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut on August 25. It claims that the defendants “(i) made false and misleading statements, (ii) engaged in a scheme to deceive the market, and (iii) engaged in a course of conduct that artificially inflated the price of WWE securities and operated as a fraud or deceit on Class Period purchasers of WWE securities by misrepresenting the Company’s business and prospects.”
Swanson claims that he bought WWE stock while the company was negotiating its TV deal with NBC Universal. He thinks the company made “false and misleading statements about the WWE’s much publicized ability to transform the Company’s earnings profile through, among other things, the negotiation of a lucrative new long-term television license deal.” He said the company claimed the new TV deal was going to be the “primary driver of WWE’s transformation” and compared it to NASCAR’s recent TV contract, which is worth $ 820 million. The company also allegedly claimed their programming was “DVR-proof” and they downplayed “the fact that advertisers pay less to reach WWE’s viewers than traditional sports and any other show on the USA Network and the negative impact on the television license negotiations resulting from the Company’s launch of its WWE Network, a 24/7 subscription-based streaming network containing pay-per-view events and original and historical programming.”
WWE’s negotiations led to a $ 92 million deal, which was an increase from their $ 57 million deal. The lawsuit claims that “the stock price of WWE fell to $ 11.27 per share on May 16, 2014, a decline of 43% from the previous closing price of $ 19.93 per share.” McMahon and Barrios are also being sued because of statements they made during stockholder conference calls. Barrios also had a presentation at the December 2013 UBS Global Media and Communications Conference during that time.
[Photo Credit: WWE]