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April 2, 2018

WWE Cleared By Judge In Federal Concussion Lawsuit

A federal judge has cleared WWE from a concussion lawsuit filed by two former wrestlers in the company, Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton. While Singleton did not compete on the main program, LoGrasso popularized himself as "Big Vito," and competed in both ECW and WCW before his WWE run.

The wrestlers alleged that WWE committed fraud by failing to disclose the link between concussions and permanent damage. However, Judge Vanessa Bryan dismissed these claims based on a number of factors.

"The evidence does not support a finding that WWE knew of a risk that repeated head injuries incurred while performing as a professional wrestler could cause permanent degenerative neurological conditions," Judge Bryant wrote in a 21-page filing.

The wrestlers also claimed that the head-trauma work of Joseph Maroon (who was responsible for making the final decision of clearing Daniel Bryan to return to in-ring action) and Mark Lovell dates back to the 1980s, but Judge Bryant refuted this claim stating that they did not work for WWE at the time. According to Bryant, 2008 was the earliest that their knowledge can be imputed to WWE. LoGrasso competed in WWE from 2005-2007.

Judge Bryant also rejected the argument of WWE learning of the dangers of concussions by former WWE competitor Chris Nowinski, who started his own concussion research company after having to retire from wrestling in 2003 due to continuous post-concussion symptoms.

"Plaintiffs have not offered any new evidence showing that WWE was aware of Nowinski's research, that anyone at WWE read Nowinski's book, or that anything in Nowinski's book would suggest a link between professional wrestling and permanent degenerative neurological conditions," Bryant concluded. In addition, she also refuted claims of WWE concealing their awareness of Chris Benoit's CTE diagnosis to LoGrasso.

"Although WWE attempted to discredit the finding that Benoit had CTE, and tried to distance WWE from Benoit's behavior, no reasonable jury could find that WWE concealed the fact of Benoit's diagnosis from LoGrasso," Bryant stated.

For Singleton, his career ended in 2012 when he did not take a chokeslam properly. He claimed that he did not attend a presentation by Maroon a month earlier, which provided insight on the topics of drug abuse and concussion risks. As a result, Bryan deemed Singleton's claim inconsistent with WWE withholding information for the purpose of inducing him to continue wrestling.

LoGrasso claimed that he suffered head trauma in five matches during his two-year stint in the WWE. During the May 2016 video deposition, LoGrasso recalled a six-man tag match, multiple matches against William (Steven) Regal, and one with Mr. Kennedy. In one of those matches against Regal, he hit his head, but "didn't know if [he] had a concussion." He also admitted that he did not review his medical records, and went back and forth on his testimony of whether he watched the matches where he claims that head trauma was suffered.

Also in the deposition, LoGrasso affirmed that he was a part of violent matches in ECW voluntarily, and although he had the ability to say that he was not going to take part of any of these matches, he did not. He also affirmed that he had a personal doctor during the time he was in WWE, and admitted that he never went to anyone to tell them that he may have suffered a head injury during the times he claimed that he did.

Source: Courthouse News Service

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