Long-time WWE outside counsel Jerry McDevitt recently spoke to Wrestling Inc about the WWE CTE lawsuit filed by Konstantine Kyros. The lawsuit was dismissed earlier this month for a second time in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City. Prior to that, it was dismissed by a federal judge in Connecticut.
McDevitt believes Kyros was trying to take advantage of WWE and other sports organizations after he saw the NFL pay over a billion dollars in a similar CTE case.
“They brought lawsuits against college football teams in the NCAA and high school teams, water polo,” McDevitt told Wrestling Inc. “You name it, and Kyros’ solicitations suggested in his website suggested, incorrectly we believe, that he had somehow been involved in obtaining the settlement for the NFL players and would be able to replicate that if only these wrestlers would agree to hire him so he could sue the WWE to get the same amount of money and the same thing for the former wrestlers. So he was basically soliciting them with promises of there’s nothing to lose.
“You can get money out of this, and I’ll take a contingent fee of what I get, but it won’t cost you anything, and he actually went out on radio shows and stuff and podcasts and was making statements to the effect that well, the more people that sign up, the more pressure we can bring on WWE to settle these cases and pay us a lot of money. And we know he had told these people that he would be able to use this litigation to renegotiate contracts that expired long ago and get them better royalties and a bunch of nonsense frankly.”
McDevitt also explained why the case was dismissed citing Connecticut’s statute of limitations.
“That says that you have three years from, in the words of the statute, ‘the act or omission complained of to bring a lawsuit for injuries,’ and so if the act or omission complained of is getting hit on the head causing concussions or CTE or whatnot to the extent you’re trying to blame somebody for that, you have three years from the time that that happened to bring a lawsuit. And some of these people, particularly the ones in the Laurinitis case, I mean there was, I can’t remember his name, but his claims would have been time barred under the statute during the administration of Richard Nixon. Others would have been barred during the time when Jimmy Carter was the president. So these claims were really old and stale. Beyond that, there was nothing that would indicate that the WWE had done anything wrong or had ever concealed anything from anybody. The evidence is pretty clear.”
The case featured 50 former pro wrestlers as plaintiffs that included the late Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, and “Big” Vito LoGrasso.
Here’s Big Vito’s response to the dismissal, originally posted to his Facebook page:
It is true the good guys don’t always win, but they never stop fighting. Unfortunately, as a first generation American, and a voting American citizen I was denied my right to a hearing. I was not allowed to present my fight with a jury of my peers. My case vs WWE in the District Court level went the distance. Depositions were recorded, thousands of forms filled out, thousands of dollars for filing fees, we even went into settlement talks. As we were awaiting a hearing date, the suite was dismissed by Judge Bryant.
It was dismissed on the basis of something 100% unrelated to me whatsoever, but again, as an American citizen, I knew I had my right to appeal, and due to our court processes here in the US, I waited YEARS for that right, and in one pound of a rubber stamp my rights were thrown out of the window.
What makes me have less rights than others? Because I’m not a politician I have no rights to a hearing? Because I’m not a Fortune 500 company I have no rights to a hearing? Because the job title “Pro Wrestler” isn’t as glamorous as an NFL player or Hollywood Actor I have no rights to a hearing?
During these 6 years of fighting for wrestlers rights, we have lost dozens of our brothers to CTE and Brain trauma related deaths, overdoses, and suicides. Myself and my family went through constant harassment, death threats, hacking of our websites and social media. Personal information about our family released, information about my wife’s medical condition, and we were doxed which resulted in us selling our home and moving out of state.
Our lives have been changed by CTE, not only the effect it has on our personal family, but also our friends and loved ones. We suffered through the loss of our dears friends in a murder/suicide directly related to CTE and professional wrestling, sadly this isn’t the first time we experienced this. We have been fighting so it will be the last time we experience this.
Vince McMahon and the WWE have done NOTHING to assist with the plight of pro wrestlers who have worked under their banner. A “Drug Rehab” is a bandaid on a gaping wound. They have made millions off the backs of men and woman, and watched as they have fallen to injury and illness as a result. These men and woman breaking their backs for you and are not afforded healthcare, security, recovery time, retirement benefits, fair treatment, licenses, and royalties. It’s to the point they can’t even use their legal names without the company claiming ownership.
Being an “Independent Contractor” affords them an unhealthy “Indentured Servitude” and after time served they are thrown away like human refuge, and the situation has only gotten worse. And to Linda McMahon, formerly Administrator of the Small Business Administration, as independent contractors WE ARE SMALL BUSINESS. You are tied to not only the company, but the government. What have you done to help? What have you done to make a difference?
I have contacted several major wrestling companies to discuss safety of pro wrestlers, I have been contacted back by none of them. I still have an open door policy to have an open discussion about wrestler safety and rights to ANY company that wishes to discuss this topic. This fight was never about money, more money has been spent that would have ever possibly been recouped.
This is about change, this is about respect for professionally trained athletes who are suffering, and those who are making money off of this suffering.
This fight will never stop. I want to thank Andrew Yang and John Oliver for speaking out on our behalf. I want to thank my lawyer Mr. Kyros for his tireless work. I want to thank friends and fans for standing by us. Again as an American Citizen, a son of Immigrants, I believe anything is possible. I believe change is possible. Our case was already named in a victory in Ohio appeals court: Schmitz v. NCAA 2016-Ohio-8041 and we will not stop until we are heard!
Vito J. LoGrasso
CTE and Human Rights Advocate