Supreme Court declines to hear brain damages case from former WWE wrestlers

Supreme Court declines to hear brain damages case from former WWE wrestlers

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal on Monday from several former pro wrestlers who claim World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) failed to protect them from repeated head injuries that led to brain damage.

The plaintiffs in the case include William “Billy Jack” Haynes, Russ “Big Russ” McCullough, Ryan Sakoda, Matthew “Luther Reigns” Wiese and the widow of Nelson “Viscera” Frazier, who died in 2014, The Associated Press reports.

Their case had been previously dismissed by a lower court for being filed too late. More than 50 former wrestlers who were largely active in the 1980s and 1990s sued the WWE, alleging the entertainment company knew of the risks of repeated head injuries, but did not warn the wrestlers.


The AP reports that this lawsuit is the last of several that were first filed six years ago in Connecticut, where WWE is based.

Two deceased former wrestlers, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, were posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to their lawyers. There are currently no methods of diagnosing CTE while a patient is still alive. Other wrestlers are allegedly suffering from dementia.

“The wrestlers are dying of CTE despite the inaction of the justice system," attorney Konstantine Kyros said after the Supreme Court’s decision. “Our team is proud to have brought their claims to our highest court and hopeful that this brings awareness to their ongoing struggles.”

“We’re glad it’s finally over,” Jerry McDevitt, a lawyer for WWE, said Monday, according to the AP. “We were completely vindicated.”

Scrutiny around the prevalence of CTE in professional athletes has risen in recent years among contact sports leagues, particularly the NFL.

In 2016, the NFL acknowledged that there is a link between football and CTE after many years of avoiding the topic. That same year, the football league pledged $100 million for independent medical research into neuroscience related topics.

Symptoms of CTE include include difficulty thinking, short-term memory loss, depression, impulsive behavior, suicidal thoughts and emotional instability.