WWE News WWE NEWS: Widow of former WWE star Nelson Frazier files wrongful death suit on one-year anniv., details Frazier's final days, alleges concussion negligence, references Punk comments, more
Feb 19, 2015 - 1:45:46 AM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
-- February 18: On the one-year anniversary of the death of former WWE star Nelson Frazier, Jr. (Viscera/Mabel/Big Daddy V), Frazier's widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WWE related to concussions.
Cassandra, the plaintiff in the suit, alleges that WWE concealed information, misrepresented research, or misinformed Frazier and other WWE stars on the health risks associated with performing for WWE and long-term health risks of repeated blows to the head/neck region. Cassandra also alleges that WWE profited financially from their use of Frazier as a big-man wrestler while putting his health at risk.
"Plaintiff brings this suit for damages ... predicated on the WWE's wrongful conduct giving rise to the long-term consequences of multiple concussions and other serious, permanent, and disabling injuries during Nelson Frazier, Jr.'s approximately 15-year WWE career.
"Plaintiff, as the sole surviving spouse, is the successor in interest and is the personal representative of the Estate of Nelson Frazier, Jr. Mr. Frazier died February 18, 2014 at the age of 43 as a result of injuries he sustained as a result of wrestling for WWE."
Cassandra says in the suit that Frazier showed signs of the CTE brain disease prior to his death. The suit alleges that "Mr. Frazier suffered several other injuries while performing for the WWE which eventually led to his permanent disability and contributed to his pain and suffering, death, and damages to self and widow. ... In sum, WWE actively, willfully, recklessly, and negligently concealed important medical information from its wrestlers and deceived them concerning the effects of multiple head trauma and prematurely allowed them to return to wrestling matches even when injured. As a result, wrestlers, including Mr. Frazier, suffered serious, permanent, and debilitating injuries, damages, and in the case of Mr. Frazier, death."
The suit goes into detail on the final period of Frazier's life prior to his death. "Mr. Frazier bore visible, physical signs of this long career. Mr. Frazier had large knots on his head, as the scar tissue on his skull formed into permanent lumps. He also evidenced indentations to his skull. Before his untimely death, Frazier exhibited severe symptoms of neurological injuries, and other physical trauma.
"Frazier had lost most of his short-term memory... had difficulty performing basic tasks due to his inability to recall events or appointments. Frazier suffered from severe migraines for which he sought medical attention. Frazier suffered severe depression for which he sought medical attention. Frazier had sustained serious long-term brain damage from his WWE career. Frazier's broken spirit and body left him virtually penniless and he was forced to pay cash for medical services in the months before his death.
"Nelson Frazier, Jr., in ailing health, collapsed after taking a shower in his home on February 18, 2014, his wife by his side. He had a massive heart attack and died at age 43."
The suit circles back to Frazier "sustaining numerous head injuries and wrestling on a rigorous schedule for WWE throughout the United States and the world."
Cassandra states that "had Nelson Frazier been aware of (medical) information he would have ensured that he received appropriate medical treatment and ensured that he was completely healthy and his brain had completely healed before returning to the ring."
Regarding WWE's present-day concussion testing as part of the Wellness Policy, Cassandra alleges that WWE is negligent in its "duty as a guardian against head-trauma in wrestlers," including "serving as a false assurance that the WWE was providing wrestlers with accurate risk analysis."
The suit references WWE's concussion doctor Dr. Joseph Maroon's checkered past in the area of concussion research, including refuting early CTE research by "pioneer" Dr. Bennett Omalu.
Cassandra is seeking compensation, justice, and damages on nine counts against WWE.
(1) Negligence by not informing Frazier of health risks and concussion research when performing for WWE during the 1990s and 2000s.
(2) Negligent Misrepresentation by "materially misrepresenting the risks" related to head, back, and spine injuries.
(3) Intentional Misrepresentation.
(4) Fraudulent Concealment. Included is Cassandra alleging that "WWE was aware prior to Nelson Frazier contracting with the WWE as a WWE Talent in 1993 that repetitive head impacts in wrestling and training sessions created a risk of harm to the WWE Talent." This is a key element of the suit (and Billy Jack Haynes's related suit against WWE filed in 2014) if Cassandra's legal team is able to prove that WWE had access to credible research on concussions and related health risks 20+ years ago.
(5) Fraud by Omission / Failure to Warn.
(6) Vicarious Liability.
(7) Wrongful Death. Cassandra alleges that "Nelson Frazier's untimely death on or about February 18, 2014 was a direct and proximate result of having suffered multiple past traumatic brain injuries while wrestling for the WWE as a WWE Talent from 1993 to 2008."
(8) Punitive Damages. Cassandra alleges that "WWE's callous disregard for safety resulted in the serious, permanent, physical, and emotional injuries and Nelson Frazier's death has put other WWE Talent at great risk."
(9) Loss of Consortium by Cassandra Frazier. Cassandra alleges that "prior to his death, Nelson Frazier experienced years of headaches, severe migraine headaches, loss of memory, memory lapses and deficiency, confusion, disorientation," and other health ailments.
Cassandra continues: "As a direct and proximate result of the WWE's negligence, negligent misrepresentations, fraud, and intentional, willful, reckless, and/or wanton conduct, Cassandra Frazier suffered the loss of Nelson Frazier's consortium, love, companionship," and other marital connections "caused by Nelson Frazier's injuries during his life."
The comprehensive 124-page lawsuit covers Frazier's entire wrestling match & injury history, big-name wrestlers who have died prematurely, including Chris Benoit related to CTE, wrestling moves that include risk of injury even if performed correctly, and the history of concussion research as it relates to WWE and the NFL.
The suit also references C.M. Punk's comments on Colt Cabana's podcast in November 2014 calling "b.s." on WWE's concussion protocol in present-day, which Punk said contributed to his departure from the company in January 2014.
Cassandra is seeking judgment against WWE for compensatory and general damages, special and incidental damages, punitive damages, costs & disbursements for attorney fees, trial by jury, and general relief.
The suit was filed in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tennessee (Memphis), where Frazier's widow, Cassandra, resides, and where WWE conducts business. (WWE's Fast Lane PPV is in Memphis on Sunday.)
Cassandra is represented by Memphis attorney R. Christopher Gilreath of Gilreath & Associates. According to his bio, Gilreath specializes in malpractice suits against corporations:
"Chris believes first and foremost that the law should work to protect human life and personal freedoms. His experience as a leader and lawyer reflects his commitment to preserving the rights of people in the face of attacks by greedy corporations and insurance companies, who would give away the rights of people to increase their profits."
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