On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant dismissed wrongful death lawsuits against WWE filed by Michelle James, the girlfriend of Matt Osborne, and Cassandra Frazier, the widow of Nelson Frazier Jr.
Osborne, best known as “Maniac” Matt Borne and the original Doink the Clown, passed away on June 28, 2013, in Plano, TX, from an accidental opiate overdose at the age of 55.
Frazier, who wrestled as Viscera, Mabel and Big Daddy V among other names, passed away due to a heart attack at age 43 while in the shower at his home on February 18, 2014.
In both cases, the lawsuit was a claim that both men suffered brain injuries while working for WWE that in some form led to their early deaths. In both cases, neither wrestler’s brains were examined after death to see if there was an issue with CTE.
Bryant ruled that James didn’t provide facts that would indicate that Osborne had CTE or his overdose death was in any related to that CTE. Frazier was cremated without an autopsy.
She also ruled that a wrongful death action can only be taken by an executor or an administrator, and James, who had a child with Osborne but was not married to him, was neither. She stated that the court may have considered allowing a re-filing of the case using family members but declined to allow it, stating the case would be futile as the lawyers have not plead a plausible cause of action.
With Frazier, the case was dismissed because the planitiffs failed to allege a plausible casual relationship between his death and any wrongful acts by WWE.
Bryant noted that the lawsuit stated that “upon information and belief” both Frazier and Osborne had CTE, but neither lawsuit contained any information where such a belief could be derived. With no diagnosis of either man, she wrote that it was impossible to plausibly allege, much less prove, that either man developed CTE from their tenure working for the company.
She also noted that the complaint failed to establish any link between CTE and Frazier’s heart failure, and the allegation that Frazier could have survived the heart attack if he didn’t have CTE was “another bald and baseless allegation, which the court deems unworthy of the barest measure of credibility.”
While Bryant wrote that lawyer Konstantine Kyros’ “false and misleading statements” were “highly unprofessional,” she did deny the WWE’s request to take sanctions against him regarding these cases.
However, she wrote, “The court admonishes Kyros and his co-counsel to adhere to the standards of professional conduct and to applicable rule and court orders lest they risk future sanctions or referral to the Disciplinary Committee of this court.”