An attorney for dozens of former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers who are suing the company for alleged brain injuries has been given until Nov. 3 to file an amended complaint on behalf of Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, et al.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant instructed Hingham, Massachusetts-based attorney Konstantine Kyros to be accurate and succinct in his filing on behalf of wrestlers who claim they suffered head injuries while working for WWE, leading to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
Kyros’ most recent lawsuit against Stamford-based WWE is his sixth in recent years. Last year, two wrongful death suits citing CTE as a factor were thrown out by Bryant, who called Kryos’ conduct “highly unprofessional.” In her ruling, Bryant reiterated some of her misgivings about the series of complaints.
“While the Laurinaitis complaint is, mercifully, not a carbon copy of the complaint filed in the first five consolidated cases, it remains unnecessarily and extremely long, with an overwhelming number of irrelevant allegations,” the judge wrote.
Bryant also said she’d grant declaratory judgment in favor of the WWE against several other wrestlers if the Nov. 3 deadline to file succinct pleadings is not met. Last November, the judge said Kyros presented “false and misleading statements” and wrote the attorney’s “unprovable claim that the deceased—and, in at least one case, cremated former wrestlers—had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) ‘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 Laurinaitis complaint, filed in 2016, claims the wrestler and about 50 others, including Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, suffered various head traumas and long-term neurological injuries. One of Kyros’ claims is that the entertainment conglomerate fraudulently hid news about brain injuries and wrestling from its athletes. The lawsuit seeks undetermined declaratory and punitive damages.
In an interview this week, WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt of Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates said, “The adjudicated misconduct of this lawyer [Kyros] is so far in excess of anything I’ve seen in my entire 37-year career. He makes stuff up like crazy in these lawsuits and continues to do so. He has had six lawsuits and 13 different complaints and cannot make a fraud claim in any of them.
“That the WWE fraudulently concealed [the dangers of] brain injuries from people is not true,” McDevitt said. “He is trying to suggest the WWE somehow knew something about CTE and fraudulently concealed it from its wrestlers. That is utter nonsense.”
Kyros countered in an emailed statement. “Mr. McDevitt’s bellicosity isn’t without its charms, but these types of statements are inconsistent with our roles as advocates for our clients,” he wrote. Kyros also wrote: “We intend to comply with the order making our arguments as tightly as we can under that [judge’s] standard.” Kyros called the judge’s comments leveled at him “unfair and unfortunate,” adding, “this case is about the wrestlers.”
McDevitt, who has represented the WWE since 1987, said he had “no comment” on whether wrestling could cause CTE. He did tell the Connecticut Law Tribune in December 2016 that “we are not scientists” and “the evidence is not clear” whether wrestling over time causes brain damage.
Kyros said “the wrestlers’ claims are very important as the WWE refuses to warn former wrestlers about CTE.” He also said WWE does not “even acknowledge the existence of CTE in wrestling.”
Hartford-based Day Pitney assisted the WWE as counsel.