Chris Nowinski Caught In The Middle Of WWE Lawsuit

Recently, The Boston Globe reported on Chris Nowinski's precarious position in light of the ongoing concussion lawsuit against WWE by Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton. Nowinski appears to be caught in the middle of the lawsuit, as WWE, a major sponsor of Nowinski's Concussion Legacy Foundation, attempts to discredit the CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) diagnosis of Chris Benoit made by Nowinski's former partner, Dr. Bennet Omalu. If Omalu's diagnosis of Benoit is debunked, WWE moves closer to a courtroom victory in this lawsuit, which turns on whether WWE fraudulently failed to warn the plaintiffs that they could suffer head injuries in the squared circle that result in permanent brain damage. With that said, the legal battle also opens Nowinski up to reputational harm, as his work promoting Omalu's diagnosis of Benoit is what brought Nowinski to the forefront of concussion research in the first place.

In 2007, Nowinski created a concussion research foundation. Shortly thereafter, Nowinski and Omalu obtained the brain of Benoit and Omalu diagnosed the former world champion professional wrestler with severe CTE. This was the first confirmation of CTE in a WWE Superstar and Nowinski publicized this diagnosis with a significant media outreach campaign in 2007. Neurosurgeons Julian Bailes and Robert Cantu affirmed Omalu's diagnosis of Benoit.

Omalu, presently serves as the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, teaches at the University of California, Davis, and is a founding member of the Pennsylvania-based Brain Injury Research Institute. The Nigerian-born forensic pathologist and Nowinski parted ways, as Omalu was said to talk to the ghosts of the people he studied and worked cases out of his garage.

While the self-professed devout Catholic dismissed such claims as merely attempts at ridiculing him, Omalu did admit to bringing brains home with him because he did not want others interfering with his work and he wanted to protect his intellectual property by working independently.

"I brought brains home because everybody did not believe in what I was doing. I didn't want a supervisor telling me to stop examining brains.”

Nowinski told The Boston Globe he had no reason to question Omalu's diagnosis of Benoit, though he would not comment further on Omalu allegedly talking to ghosts or bringing his work home with him.

"I am not a neuropathologist and I relied on Dr. Omalu's statement that the brain met his criteria for a CTE diagnosis,” Nowinski said.

While WWE has subpoenaed Omalu for all his brain research on Benoit and other deceased professional wrestlers, lawyers for the plaintiffs subpoenaed Nowinski to testify about his knowledge of head injuries in professional wrestling. Nowinski's testimony was ultimately throw out by the federal court judge presiding over the matter.

Omalu is presently studying the brains of Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten, and he agreed to study Chyna's brain back in April. If Chyna is diagnosed with CTE, it could further complicate WWE's defense against former performers who have suffered brain injuries while working for the world's largest professional wrestling promotion.

Source: The Boston Globe