The lawsuits brought against the WWE by the families of the late Matt Osbourne (Doink The Clown) and Nelson Frazier Jr (Viscera/Mabel/Big Daddy V) were dismissed by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in the United States District Court of Connecticut yesterday, according to a report from PWInsider.com.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Cassandra Frazier, the widow of Nelson Frazier Jr, filed her lawsuit against the company on February 18th, 2015 in the Shelby County Circuit Court in Memphis, Tennessee listing herself and Frazier Jr. as the plaintiffs alleging that his passing was due to the cumulative effect of the punishment that he took in the ring, including concussions and brain trauma over the 400+ matches that he competed in for WWE, however Frazier Jr’s official cause of death was listed as hypertensive cardiovascular disease and morbid obesity, diabetes mellitus as other significant contributing conditions. In the case of Matt Osbourne, his family filed a lawsuit in Dallas, Texas on June 26th, 2015 alleging that brain injuries and other issues Osbourne suffered while working for the WWE led to his death in June 2013 and alleged that traumatic brain injuries resulted in depression and drug abuse, which ultimately resulted in his untimely death. Osbourne passed away in June 2013 as mentioned above due to an accidental painkiller overdose.
The report from PWInsider.com notes that in a ruling yesterday, Judge Bryant wrote that in the case of Frazier’s lawsuit, there were allegations that his performing for WWE caused a myriad of health issues that contributed to his death from a heart attack, but given that there was no autopsy performed, it was factually impossible to connect the two. The report notes that it was also alleged in the lawsuit that Frazier suffered from CTE, but Bryant noted that there was no official medical diagnosis of that post-mortem, therefore it is impossible to officially state that as such on the record and noted that while there are allegations of Frazier’s injuries, there is nothing in the lawsuit that proves the injuries are directly linked to his WWE performances, instead giving broad descriptions and claims that in every performance, Frazier suffered injuries. Meanwhile, in the case of the lawsuit brought on behalf of the Osbourne family against WWE, the report notes that Judge Bryant noted that Michelle James, who filed the lawsuit, did not have the right to do so as she was neither the executor nor the administrator of Osbourne’s estate, something her attorneys did not even try to contest when they had 6 months to have an estate established after that issue was brought before the court, with Bryant noting that at no time did counsel for Plaintiffs invest the minimal effort and expense necessary to establish an estate and appoint an administrator in order to confer standing to bring the instant suit and noted that James’ attorneys also failed to ask for an extension of time to file an amended lawsuit. It was also noted that there was nothing in Osbourne’s autopsy report that showed a relevant analysis of his brain had been done, with Bryant stating that it is impossible to plausibly allege, much less prove, that either wrestler had CTE and that there were no facts linking their deaths to CTE filed by their attorneys.
The report further states that it was also noted that in the case of each lawsuit, neither filing could prove, under Connecticut law, that WWE were directly responsible for Frazier and Osbourne’s deaths via an unbroken sequence of events, with Bryant stating that counsel for Plaintiffs could identify only four vague and conclusory assertions of fact to link Frazier’s death with the more than one hundred pages of alleged wrongful conduct on the part of WWE detailed in the prolix Amended Complaint and that the exact same verbiage was used to allege WWE was responsible for Osbourne’s passing also. The ruling dismissing the lawsuits also noted that Judge Bryant was turning down WWE’s motion to file sanctions against attorney Konstantine Kyros, who has spearheaded the concussion-related lawsuits against the WWE filed over the past several years. The report notes that while the court declined to file a sanction against Kyros, it did note the following, “The Court would be well within its broad discretion to sanction counsel for their failure to adhere to the Court’s instructions and trim the inflammatory content and unnecessary length of the carbon-copy complaints in these consolidated cases. Their failure to do so forced the Court to needlessly expend resources combing through hundreds of paragraphs of allegations, to find a single shred of relevant factual content indicating whether Plaintiffs asserted a plausible claim. In doing so, however, the Plaintiffs only further underlined for the Court the lack of substantive factual content actually contained in these complaints. Although it is perhaps a close question, the Court finds that no Rule 11 sanction is merited for counsel’s disregard of the Court’s comments at the June 8 conference. Kyros’ false and misleading statements, identified by WWE above, together with other statements the Court has examined – including Kyros’ unprovable claim that deceased and, in at least one case, cremated former wrestlers had CTE “upon information and belief” – are highly unprofessional. These misleading, deceptive, and baseless allegations are precisely the types of statements that many state bar associations have targeted in promulgating rules of professional conduct which demand that admitted attorneys speak with candor to the trier of fact. The Court admonishes Kyros and his co-counsel to adhere to the standards of professional conduct and to applicable rules and court orders lest they risk future sanction or referral to the Disciplinary Committee of this Court.”