Pro wrestling’s legal battle royal is heading to the nation’s highest court.
Nearly 50 former professional wrestlers, who have claimed in lawsuits that World Wrestling Entertainment did not protect them from head injuries, are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case, The Associated Press reported.
A lawyer filed a request late Wednesday, asking the Supreme Court to hear the appeals from lower courts that dismissed the lawsuits, according to the AP. Lower courts have ruled that the lawsuits were either frivolous or were filed after the statute of limitations had expired.
The case has been progressing through the courts for six years.
Among the plaintiffs in the case were WWE stars including Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Chris “King Kong Bundy” Pallies and Harry “Mr. Fuji” Masayoshi Fujiwara.
Other wrestlers included Chavo Guerrero Jr., Bryan Clark, Ahmed Johnson, Dave Hebner, Earl Hebner, Ken Patera, Shane Douglas and Marty Jannetty, according to Bleacher Report.
Many of the wrestlers who are part of the lawsuit starred for the organization during the 1980s and 1990s.
The wrestlers allege in their lawsuit that 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.
In September, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York dismissed the wrestlers’ lawsuit, Law.com reported. That panel upheld a lower court ruling, dismissing seven consolidated lawsuits claiming the WWE knew its athletes were at risk for brain damage and other injuries, but never told them.
The circuit court agreed with a federal judge in Connecticut, who threw out the lawsuits in 2018.
The WWE, based in Stamford, Connecticut, continues to deny the allegations and says the lawsuits are without merit, a spokesperson told the AP on Thursday.
Snuka and Fujiwara died in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and both were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to their attorney. Pallies died in 2019 and Laurinaitis died in September 2020.
The lawyer for the former wrestlers, Konstantine Kyros, who is based in Hingham, Massachusetts, criticized the rulings by the appeal court and said the former wrestlers have been “deprived of their fundamental rights as U.S. citizens, including their right to appeal.”
Multiple concussion-related class-action lawsuits against WWE by former wrestlers were dismissed in March 2016, according to SB Nation.
The wrestlers have argued that unlike football and hockey, where players have suffered similar injuries, WWE matches are scripted and choreographed by the company. The wrestlers argued that made WWE directly responsible for wrestlers’ injuries, the original complaint alleged.
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