As we first reported late last night, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed late yesterday afternoon in the Memphis Circuit County Court. The lawsuit claims that Nelson Frazier's passing was a result of professional wrestling's culture that led to numerous injuries that resulted in head trauma sustained while in WWE. WrestlingNews.co has obtained a copy of the lawsuit. Here are some of the items listed:
"Despite the massive cultural and commercial success of professional wrestling under the leadership of WWE and Vince McMahon, the WWE has tragically failed to protect its wrestlers from harms orchestrated, perpetuated, encouraged, demanded, and otherwise created by WWE. Through its years of development, growth, and success, despite the increase in revenues to WWE, and despite the development of medical knowledge and science concerning the dangers of head injuries, WWE consistently ignored and disregarded risks of harm to its wrestlers. However, Defendant WWE kept antiquated rules and traditions in place to maintain the "entertainment value" of its products, rather than concern itself with the well-being of the wrestlers. The result was that despite the years of abuse, injury, trauma, and impact suffered by WWE wrestlers, the wrestlers in turn received little to no health care or appropriate medical treatment from WWE."
The suit also claims that WWE failed to protect its wrestlers from head injuries for decades and to this day, the suit claims, they continue to downplay the significance of head trauma caused by wrestling moves.
The suit also claims that WWE made deceptive statements and there were efforts to conceal medical evidence.
"Nelson Frazier, Jr. was in an inferior bargaining position to WWE, as well as an inferior position to know the scope of risks to which WWE insisted he participate. As a result, he regularly returned to wrestle prematurely, despite suffering injury from a previous match, without adequate time to heal. Subsequently, as Mr. Frazier's health further declined, the WWE did nothing to help him manage or treat his injuries and wrestling-related medical conditions."
The suite also notes that, before his death, Nelson Frazier suffered from symptoms of severe and permanent brain damage, including but not limited to, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
The lawsuit claims that WWE has, for years, ignored the growing list of wrestlers who have died during or after their work in WWE and notes that wrestlers have died at a staggering rate under the age of 50. The suit also brings up some of the past accusations and quotes from media over the years on professonal wrestling:
- A statement from a well-known journalist who follows the issue: "literally dozens of wrestlers in their twenties, thirties, and forties, have dropped dead in the last two decades - a staggering epidemiological trail hidden in plain sight, noticed by few, cared by about fewer still." This is a quote from Irv Muschnick.
- The infamous HBO segment with Vince McMahon titled "Deaths in Pro Wrestling." McMahon was asked, "Do you have a reason why these people would be dying under the age of 45?" and "If [the death rate] in any way shape or form falls on your shoulders?" McMahon replied, "I would accept no responsibility whatsoever for their untimely deaths, none whatsoever." The suit notes that McMahon became visibily agitaged at the questioning and flickied a folder at the reporter.
- The suit lists an incomplete list of nearly forty wrestlers who worked with WWE at one time or another and lost their lives prematurely.
The lawsuit claims that Frazier was injured at SummerSlam 1995 in a match against Diesel (Kevin Nash) but he returned to wrestle. There was a quote from the Edmonton Journal, "McMahon was determined to get everything he could out of his investments in Mabel and moved him into a feud with The Undertaker." The suit notes that The Undertaker was injured in the match.
The suit notes that Frazier wrestled CM Punk during his final run with the company and Punk made headlines in November 2014 with claims that he was cleared to wrestle after sustaining severe injuries. The suit notes that CM Punk called the WWE concussion policy "bullshit" and he passed the concussion test after getting hurt in November 2013 when he clearly should have failed.
"Mr. Frazier bore visible, physical signs of this long career. Mr. Frazier had large knots in his head, as the scar tissue on his scull formed into permanent lumps. He also evidenced indentations in his skull."
The suit claims that Friazier showed sympotoms of neurological injuries and other physical trauma and suffered from confusion and disorientation. It is also claimed that he lost most of his short-term memory and suffered from severe migraines and severe depression for which he sought medical attention.
For more on the lawsuit and what we first noted about it late last night click here.
We have reached out to WWE for comment.