Former WWE worker Billy Jack Haynes filed a lawsuit against the company in US District Court in Portland, Oregon last Thursday. In the suit, he alleges “egregious mistreatment of its wrestlers for its own benefit, as well as its concealment and denial of medical research and evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries suffered by WWE wrestlers."
Haynes is requesting class action status and claims to have as many as 500 wrestlers that could join him. Haynes worked for WWE under a Performer's Contract from 1986-1988.
He claims, “Under the guise of providing ‘entertainment,’ WWE has, for decades, subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused long-term irreversible bodily damage, including brain damage.”
Adding, “WWE has engaged in a campaign of misinformation and deception to prevent its wrestlers from understanding the true nature and consequences of the injuries they have sustained. WWE’s representations, actions, and inactions have caused its wrestlers to suffer from death, long-term debilitating injuries, lost profits, premature retirement, medical expenses, and other losses as alleged herein.”
Haynes questioned the independent contractor status of WWE wrestlers and pointed out the lack of healthcare coverage. He is asking in the lawsuit for WWE to create a trust fund to care for the medical treatment of affected workers.
On Saturday, WWE issued the following statement:
"Billy Jack Haynes performed for WWE from 1986-1988. His filed lawsuit alleges that WWE concealed medical information and evidence on concussions during that time, which is impossible since the condition now called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) had not even been discovered.
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. Current WWE procedures include ImPACT testing for brain function, annual educational seminars, and the strict prohibition of deliberate and direct shots to the head.
Additionally, WWE has committed significant funding for concussion research conducted by the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), leaders in concussion research, and WWE Executive Vice President Paul Levesque sits on SLI's Board."