Mr. Walmart will not be able to weasel out of this. If the mighty NFL was forced to pay the concussion settlement, how can one teetering media company avoid paying? The list of prematurely dead former “contractors” is too long.
Prediction: The fact that Mr. Walmart forces employees to work as contractors for years on end (exclusive contractors) will be the next stage in the lawsuits. Look for a multi-million, perhaps billion dollar payout to hundreds of athletes.
Boston Herald Sunday March 15, 2015:
A Bay State lawyer is going to the mat with World Wrestling Entertainment through a series of aggressive lawsuits and says behind the music, mayhem and high-flying dramatics lies a company that has left its performers vulnerable to lifelong injuries and early death.
Konstantine Kyros, a Hingham attorney who appeared on national television in January after bringing a class-action lawsuit against the WWE for failing to protect its talent against brain injuries, recently filed a separate wrongful death suit against the company.
He says Nelson Frazier Jr., who for years did battle in the WWE as Mabel, died last year after suffering a heart attack in his shower. Kyros said the former wrestler’s death was brought on by years of dangerous stunts and untreated physical ailments. He was 43 years old.
“A pattern has developed, through what these former wrestlers have told me. They were subjected to pretty serious trauma during their career, and then after, they are left with very little when it comes to health care,” Kyros said. “The WWE seems to have taken the position that they don’t owe any further duty to these guys when they retire.”
In a 123-page complaint filed last month in Tennessee, Kyros and two other attorneys chronicled what they say is a systematic failure to protect professional wrestlers from the inherent dangers of the trade. The suit lists 39 wrestlers who died early — from a variety of causes — after their wrestling careers.
“These men and women are no longer here to tell their tragic story: they nearly all either fell in the terrible cycle of drug addiction, suffered heart attacks, or in some cases, committed suicide, an unfortunately prevalent cause of mortality among WWE wrestlers,” the suit states.
Kyros claims many wrestlers, including Frazier, worked while injured and “turned to powerful pain medications and muscle relaxers that are routinely used and were often dispensed by WWE-affiliated doctors.”
WWE fiercely rejected Kyros’ claims, and insinuated that the attorney is simply looking for a payday and the company will likely “seek sanctions” against him for bringing frivolous lawsuits. WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt said the company provides health and wellness services for its athletes, even after they retire.
“They just ignore these things and allege whatever they feel like alleging,” McDevitt said. “You can’t do that as a lawyer. You have to be basing your allegations on a reasonable investigation of the facts. It’s not some creative writing exercise to see if you can get media attention.”
He said Frazier’s case is “tragic” but the nearly 500-pound performer’s death had nothing to do with his nearly 15-year career as a professional wrestler.
“It’s an embarrassment to be a lawyer sometimes,” McDevitt said. “It’s ridiculous that someone can … try to blame someone because a gentleman with a weight problem died of a heart attack in the shower eight years after he last performed. It’s ridiculous to try and blame someone for that.”
Kyros, who advertises that he has represented “hundreds of former NFL players” in concussion-related lawsuits, defended the WWE suits. He said “there are only so many ways to help the families of people” who have been hurt or killed in work-related incidents.
The standoff between Kyros and WWE is just starting to heat up, and it’s clear the local attorney is trying to pin the entertainment giant with its supposed wrongdoings.