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Professional wrestler injury cases alleging negligence dismissed


A federal appeals court in New York on Wednesday dismissed several consolidated lawsuits filed by more than two dozen former professional wrestlers who claimed their work for the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. caused “significant” lifelong mental and physical ailments.

The wrestlers alleged that due to physical trauma they experienced while performing, they suffered neurological damage resulting in diseases such as the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to documents in Haynes v. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. At least one of the wrestlers claimed that WWE withheld information on risks associated with wrestling, according to documents.

The lengthy list of plaintiffs includes some of the most famous professional wrestlers, such as Chris Pallies, who performed under the stage name “King Kong Bundy,” who died last year, and the families of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, who died in 2017, and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, otherwise known as “Mr. Fuji,” who died in 2016. 

The most recent appeal in the case arose from seven cases consolidated in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, which dismissed all the cases by 2018, concluding that the plaintiffs had “not produced evidence establishing that WWE knew of a risk of permanent degenerative neurological conditions prior to September 2007, when a widely publicized report … discussed those conditions.”

The district court also concluded that “no reasonable jury could find that WWE concealed the dangers allegedly associated with wrestling.”

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissals, citing no “plausible actions” and that some of the claims are time-barred or frivolous, among other justifications.