(Reuters) - Two former WWE professional wrestlers say they have serious brain injuries after suffering repeated concussions in the ring and have filed a potential class-action lawsuit against the Connecticut-based company in federal court in Philadelphia.
Vito LoGrasso, 50, of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and Evan Singleton, 22, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, accuse World Wrestling Entertainment of “selling violence” and ignoring their “numerous” concussions.
“Under the guise of providing ‘entertainment,’ WWE has, for decades, subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known” causes a variety of medical problems, including brain damage, the lawsuit said.
LoGrasso, whose ring names included Big Vito and Skull Von Krush, wrestled in the WWE from 1991 to 1998 and from 2005 to 2007, was “seriously and obviously injured countless times,” according to the lawsuit. It said he was “forced to wrestle though he was losing consciousness before and during matches.”
LoGrasso now suffers from “serious neurological damage” and has memory loss, depression and anxiety, the lawsuit said.
Singleton wrestled for WWE under the name of Adam Mercer from 2012 to 2013 and at the age of 19 was among the youngest wrestlers in WWE history. He now has “an array of serious symptoms,” including tremors, convulsions, memory loss and “impaired ability to reason,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit is similar to those filed in several other U.S. sports, including the National Football League, whose settlement with former players over concussions could reach as high as $1 billion.
Attorney Jerry McDevitt, representing the WWE, said the suit was similar to one filed in Oregon and that WWE had never concealed medical information from its wrestlers.
“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,” he said.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott