It has been around nine months since we had any update on Daffney‘s Workers’ Compensation claim against TNA, but Ringbelles has secured some information on the situation, and it could potentially lead to one of the biggest shake-ups in wrestling history. It could cause ripple effects not just through TNA, but also to WWE.
It was always telling that Daffney (Shannon Spruill) filed a Workers’ Comp lawsuit instead of a personal injury one, which could have been another avenue for her to be compensated for concussions which she suffered on TNA shows and effectively ended her in-ring career. The reason for that is because she wants to test the claim that wrestlers are “independent contractors”, which means that they are responsible for their own medical insurance and do not enjoy the same sort of protection and benefits that a regular employee would – similar to the lawsuit that Raven, Mike Sanders and Chris Kanyon filed against WWE back in 2008 – but was dismissed, partly because their claims were barred by statute of limitations.
TNA is to mediate with Spruill tomorrow – if a settlement is not reached, the case will go to court, when it will then be up to a judge to see if wrestlers under a contract, booked to appear at places on certain dates, be told to execute a planned outcome and not have the freedom to accept booking elsewhere are truly “independent contractors” or if they should be classified as employees. Rather than just looking to satisfy her medical bills which have left her out of pocket, Spruill’s case could create a legal judgement which means all wrestlers in places like WWE and TNA could legally have to become staff.
Were that to happen, both companies would likely have to face huge tax bills as well as an increase in costs due to having to sort out benefits and insurance. On the flip side, the wrestlers on the roster would have medical cover for their injuries. That would be more of an issue in TNA than WWE, considering wrestlers working for Vince McMahon are generally well taken care of, while there have been cases in TNA such as with Ron “R-Truth” Killings, Konnan and Jesse Neal where medical bills were a cause of tension, and April Hunter pointed out having to sign a medical waiver was a big reason why she never signed to wrestle with them.
It is possible that TNA would not want a lot of its dirty laundry aired in public as part of a court case where there could be a chance that a judge could decide that wrestlers should be classified as employees. There may be a settlement at the mediation stage tomorrow, with a confidentiality agreement signed which would bar Spruill from discussing the case any further. However, should that not happen and mediation ends without a settlement, the issue will be taken to court for a hearing on the motion on the same day.
Tomorrow could be a massive day for pro wrestling and pro wrestlers. We’ll keep you posted.
– Lee Burton