Former pro wrestlers Vito LoGrasso, 50, and Evan Singleton, 33, are suing World Wrestling Entertainment over concussions they claim they sustained while fighting for the public’s amusement.
The would-be class action suit, which only names two plaintiffs, could expand to more than 500 wrestlers. The lawsuit charges that the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) subjects wrestlers to risks “by script, on a daily basis.”
LoGrasso, of Coatesville, was known as “Big Vito,” and wore a dress in the ring while wrestling. Singleton, of Lancaster, was known as “Adam Mercer” and wrestled from 2012 to 2013.
“WWE events include activities that cannot be performed safely,” the suit states, using a picture of WWE CEO Vince McMahon (an occasional wrestler) whacking another wrestler in the head with a metal folding chair to illustrate its point.
The lawsuit, filed by Conshohocken attorney Harris Pogust, cites an autopsy of wrestler Chris Benoit. who died in 2007 at age 40. Doctors reportedly said his brain “resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.”
After a year of wrestling from 2012-13, Singleton was declared to be “completely disabled” due to internal brain bleeding, that caused tremors, migraines, memory loss, and impaired ability to reason, the suit says.
The suit says LoGrasso, who wrestled for the WWE between 1991 and 1998 and again from 2005 to 2007, suffers from severe headaches, memory loss, depression, anxiety and deafness.
The suit seeks undisclosed damages in excess of $5 million per wrestler.
A similar lawsuit was filed in October 2014 against the WWE on behalf of former pro wrestler William Albert Haynes III, who wrestled as “Billy Jack Haynes.”
“WWE has never concealed any medical information related to concussions, or otherwise, from our talent,” said WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt of K&L Gates in a statement. “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.”
This lawsuit is based on studies of wrestlers’ brains conducted by forensic neuropathologists Dr. Bennet Omalu and Dr. Julian Bailes of theBrain Injury Research Institute– who also provided much of the scientific research behind a class-action lawsuit against the NFL for its players receiving concussions.
Despite the WWE’s “Wellness Policy,” the lawsuit says wrestlers are put at risk and encouraged to perform folding chair attacks and flying headbutts without adequate protection or time for recovery.
These incidents lead to “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” (CTE), which is caused by multiple concussions.