It was revealed over the weekend in the Portland Tribune that former WWE star Billy Jack Haynes, who wrestled for the promotion between 1986 and 1988, is Suing World Wrestling Entertainment for 'Egregious Mistreatment'.
Whilst WWE are no strangers to lawsuits this particular case may be a concern for the company. Not only as the injuries appear to be quantifyable but also as Haynes claims to have the signatures of over 500 other former WWE employees all suffering from injuries as a result of apparent "extreme physical brutality".
In recent years the WWE has attempted to make wrestling a safer environment for their Superstars, introducing the Wellness Programme, to tackle drug and steroid abuse, as well as trying to implement a less high impact style from it's performers.
In a statement from Haynes' lawyers Steve D. Larson and Joshua L. Ross of Stoll, Stoll, Bernie, Lotking & Schlachter they announced
“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. For most of its history, 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.”
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Speaking about Haynes himself it is claimed that the "abuse" he suffered whilst at the company has caused "Depression and symptoms of Dementia" as a result of constant head trauma. It is also claimed that he contracted Hepatitis C from hits to the head with steel chairs, chains and other objects.
This is not the first time that Haynes has spoken out about working conditions during his time at WWE, then WWF. In 1992 he stated that "Conditions were terrible" and that Vince McMahon was "Ruthless" after Mcmahon was indicted on steroid charges. In addition to those claims he also went on record in a 2009 interview with RF Video that Vince Mcmahon was to blame for the deaths of several WWE Superstars, including the double murder and suicide of Chris Benoit, even claiming that Daniel Benoit was actually McMahon's son and not Benoit's, leading to Benoit's extreme actions.
No details have been released with regards to the identities of the 500 other former employees who are supposedly also involved in the lawsuit but one thing is certain, if the case is successful then this could have a drastic impact on the future of the wrestling industry as a whole.
'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'.
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