Thursday, September 21, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wrestling Brain-Injury Appeal Thrown Out as Untimely

Former wrestlers blaming the WWE for concussion-related ailments are too late to mount a class action, the Second Circuit ruled Wednesday.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Former wrestlers blaming the WWE for concussion-related ailments are too late to mount a class action, the Second Circuit ruled Wednesday.

Relying on the precedent of the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Hall v. Hall, the appellate panel said the four challenges by groups of wrestlers must be dismissed as time-barred.

The WWE’s attorney Jerry McDevitt celebrated the opinion. “We are obviously gratified with the decision of the Second Circuit today, which effectively ends six years of stale and vexatious litigation against WWE, leaving open only the issue of the amount of sanctions that plaintiffs attorney, Konstantine Kyros, should pay WWE pursuant to multiple sanctions orders by the trial court,” McDevitt said in a statement this afternoon. 

Former professional wrestler Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka leaves Lehigh County Courthouse in Allentown, Pa., on Nov. 2, 2015. On Sept. 17, 2018, a federal judge in Connecticut dismissed a 2016 lawsuit by 60 former wrestlers, including Snuka, who claimed World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from concussions that led to long-term brain damage. (Michael Kubel/The Morning Call via AP, File)

During a June teleconference before the Manhattan-based court, McDevitt argued that some of the wrestlers’ claims had been time-barred since as far back as the 1970s. 

Kyros, the Massachusetts-based lawyer representing Joe “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and dozens of others, called the order “bizarre [and] devoid of content” on Wednesday afternoon and promised to appeal.  

“The order offers no reasoning on the complex appellate jurisdiction issues raised by Hall. The court offers a conclusory assertion about 'fatal inaction' without stating what action was required or even attempting to analyze Hall,” Kyros said in an email.  

“The wrestlers in filing a Rule 23 class action followed the rules and timely appealed (twice) and today the Second Circuit found they had no right to appeal and never could have appealed,” he added. 

For over five years, Kyros has argued that the WWE concealed the long-term neurological damage that wrestlers faced from years of being pounded in and out of the ring.  

He filed the first of six lawsuits on behalf of former WWE wrestlers in January 2015.  

The following year, Kyros brought a class action against the Connecticut-based WWE and its owner, Vince McMahon, featuring a who’s who of the sport’s past stars, including “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, Ahmed Johnson and Ken Patera. 

In total Kyros represents more than 65 wrestlers, some of whom, including Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, are no longer with us. Kyros calls Snuka “arguably the most famous athlete diagnosed with CTE.” 

Another former WWE diva-wrestler, Ashley Massaro, hanged herself last year while her case was pending appeal. 

Most recently, James Harris, who wrestled as Kamala “the Ugandan giant,” died last month at age 70. 

Two Trump appointees, U.S. Circuit Judges Michael Park and William Nardini, signed the 16-page summary order Wednesday, as did U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington Parker, a George W. Bush appointee. 

Follow @jruss_jruss
Categories / Appeals, Business, Entertainment, Health, Sports

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.