The family of late wrestling star Matt Osborne (the original Doink the Clown) has joined the long list of people suing WWE for wrongful death. Their suit is essentially the same as all the others, claiming WWE knowingly ignored brain injuries, which lead to Osborne’s “depression and drug abuse, which ultimately resulted in his untimely death,” when he overdosed on morphine and hydrocodone in 2013.
While traumatic brain injuries are definitely something wrestling and legitimate sports like the NFL are having to deal with, the problem with these lawsuits is that they fail to actually prove any of the plaintiffs suffered from brain injuries.
One of the more spurious suits comes from Cassandra Frazier, widow of Big Daddy V, who passed away from a heart attack because frankly – he was obese.
Doink may well have suffered from brain injuries like Chris Benoit and Andrew “Test” Martin, however it doesn’t look like any doctor when he was alive or after he died has confirmed this. So essentially there’s no evidence, unlike Benoit and Test who had their brains studied.
The second problem with these lawsuits is that they claim WWE knew brain injuries were occurring, ignored them and misled the wrestlers to keep on working. Again while there absolutely was a culture of working hurt back in the day, nobody knew what we do now about brain injuries, not even the scientific and medical communities. If for example CM Punk had tests done and he was found to have brain issues and he filed a lawsuit, he would have a case. Concussions are now more understood and we’re in the post-Benoit era. But somebody like Doink was wrestling for WWE in the 80s and early 90s when nobody really knew the long term effects.
WWE’s lawyer Jerry McDevitt told the Dallas Morning News:
“They’re all different from the NFL. We never had anyone claim they had these kinds of injuries until [these attorneys] did it. They find the destitute, people who have no money, and told them there’s money to be made. That’s what is going on. … And I feel bad for these families, because they think they’ll make money off of this, and they’re not.”
It’s also worth pointing out that Osborne wrestled longer in the territories and independents than he did under WWE contract.
McDevitt previously told TMZ:
“[WWE is] being targeted by attorneys who tell them there’s hundreds of thousands of dollars they can make by joining a class action suit like this. We know these claims are fraudulent, and will fight them. [The claim is] sensational, but if you really look at…what was done specifically to them? There are almost no details as to what they actually suffered as a result of working with WWE.”
It’s hard to disagree with him.