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A former professional wrestler has filed a class action lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment claiming that he contracted Hepatitis C during one of the bloody wrestling matches he took part in.
Billy Jack Haynes wrestled for the WWE (then known as the WWF) from 1986 to 1988. In addition to his Hepatitis C claim, Haynes' lawsuit also claims that the organization failed to warn wrestlers about the long-term health risks associated with concussions and encouraged wrestlers to use steroids and cocaine, reports TMZ.
What sort of health problems does Haynes' suit claim wrestlers may suffer, even long after their wrestling days are done?
Haynes lawsuit was filed last week in federal court. In it, Haynes alleges that the WWE knowingly and fraudulently concealed from wrestlers the risks involved in taking part in wrestling matches, particularly when it came to suffering brain injuries. The suit claims that WWE "sacrifices the brains of its wrestlers for its own profit."
According to the lawsuit, WWE wrestlers suffer countless blows to the head over the course of their careers, including blows from chairs, chains, tables, and other objects. The lawsuit claims that this puts wrestlers at risk from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the medical term for the punch-drunk syndrome suffered by boxers. The symptoms of CTE include depression, dementia, cognitive impairment, and personality change, to name a few.
Haynes lawsuit is similar to a lawsuit filed by former NFL players against the league accusing it of also covering up the dangers posed to players by head injuries, including CTE. A preliminary settlement of the lawsuit was approved earlier this year after the NFL agreed to lift the league's previous $765 million cap on damages. A final fairness hearing on that settlement is scheduled for November 19th.
In the meantime, McMahon and the WWE have 21 days to respond to Haynes' lawsuit. In a statement reported by TMZ, the company disputes Haynes' claims, saying "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."
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