Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cue The People's Court Theme Here...

King Mabel
Courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
Listen to the My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast here

It's been a week of lawsuits for the WWE, and before I go any further, I have no legal expertise.  I'm writing this to share my opinion (or My 1-2-3 Cents).  I figure most of you know that, but I don't want there to be any confusion.

The widow of Nelson Frazier, who fans know as Viscera, Big Daddy V and King Mabel has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWE.  Frazier died of a heart attack in February 2014.  He was only 43 years old.  Cassandra Frazier's suit alleges her husband's heart attack was caused by "WWE's willful, wanton, reckless and grossly negligent" practices.

Viscera vs. Batista
Courtesy: WWE
I mean no disrespect to the Frazier family, but Nelson weighed about 500 pounds.  He last wrestled for WWE in 2008, which was six years BEFORE his death.  He worked for various companies after his departure.  I think those few sentences summarize my problem with this lawsuit.  I know in the years since Eddie Guerrero's death in 2005, WWE has implemented and enforced a pretty strict wellness policy that goes beyond just testing for illegal drug use.  

Billy Jack Haynes gets busted open

Former WWE Superstar Billy Jack Haynes filed a lawsuit in November, blaming the company for his current health problems.  Haynes has depression, early signs of dementia, Hepatitis C and various liver and kidney troubles.  Haynes worked for WWE for two years in the late 80's.  He too had wrestled years before and after WWE.  But because the WWE is "the last company standing" there's no one else to blame (or pay up). I'm not saying Haynes never suffered the injuries.  He says he had 15 concussions in his career. Wrestling was less protective of its competitors in that era.  But three decades later, why is WWE to blame?
Vito in action (and a dress)
Courtesy: WWE
Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton have singled out the WWE as well.  In January the two sued for concussions they've suffered.  Vito is a veteran of the ring, having wrestled in WCW and ECW prior to the buyouts of both companies in 2001.  He too has worked since leaving WWE in 2007. Singleton never made it beyond WWE's development stage. 

Dr. Amann
Courtesy: WWE
WWE's physician Dr. Chris Amman is suing both CM Punk and Colt Cabana over comments made by Punk during the Art of Wrestling Podcast.  Punk claims he had a baseball size lump on his back and Dr. Amman failed to treat or diagnosis the problem for months.  Punk said another doctor told him it was a life threatening infection.  Amman is asking for a million dollars in damages.  Again, not having any legal background I don't know if the suit has any merit, but the WWE has come back swinging, releasing video of Punk wrestling and no obvious signs of a lump on his back.  

WWE's defense
Time will tell where all of these suits end up.  Anyone has the right to sue, but I don't know what kind of merit the concussion and wrong death suits have because of the wrestlers' experiences outside of WWE.  Wrestling is brutal.  People get hurt and some even die in the ring.  Proceed with caution.

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