Pro Wrestling Since 1997


80s star sues Vince McMahon over royalties

Douglas Somerson has filed a lawsuit against WWE and Vince and Linda
McMahon, according to court documents obtained today by Wrestling Globe

Somerson, 60, who wrestled as “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers is seeking
unspecified damages and costs by jury trial claiming he’s owed royalties
for WWE’s use of his name, image and persona within various items of
merchandise, specifically DVDs on the career of Shawn Michaels and WWE
Greatest Cage Matches of All Time DVD.

The suit, filed last week in Fulton County, GA, Superior Court, claimed
that WWE and the McMahons engaged in acts and omissions outside the
State of Georgia that caused “tortuous injury” to Somerson from within
the State.

“The failure to even attempt to contact Mr. Somerson to obtain the right
to use his name and likeness as well as the failure to make any attempt
to compensate Mr. Somerson demonstrates bad faith and malice on behalf
of the defendants,” the complaint said.

The suit also asserts that Somerson is now in poor health as a result of
his professional wrestling career. Incredibly, he is claiming to have
suffered more than 400 concussions in addition to broken bones and
inoperable injuries to his neck, back, knee, and foot.

“Mr. Somerson works to this very day, despite the massive physical
injuries he has sustained. Mr. Somerson has never entered into any
agreement with WWE, the McMahons, or any predecessor entity with regard
to the right to use his name and/or likeness.”

Somerson began wrestling in Minneapolis towards the late ’60s. He is
best remembered for his work in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling
Association in the mid 1980s as part of a tag team with “Playboy” Buddy
Rose, managed by Sherri Martell, both of whom have passed away in recent

He is represented by Atlanta-based attorney Edward M. Gilgor.

(source: Wrestling Globe Newsletter)

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11 Responses

  1. Brad Bardy says:

    If he never required it from Verne Gagne, when WWE bought AWA library, would he not be waiving his rights?

  2. Zack says:

    400 CONCUSSIONS?!?! This guy is so full of crap

  3. -J- says:

    he wouldn’t even be able to think up a law suit with that many concussions.

  4. wow 400 concussions, wouldn’t it be a no brainer to take caution after the 10th concussion.

  5. fairfax says:

    While I would agree that Doug Somers probably didn’t sustain over 400 concussions I do believe the right thing to do is first to ask his permission and secondly to compensate him. Somers worked for Verne Gagne likely without a contract. WWE did purchase the rights to the AWA video library and they have made money from releasing footage from it. If they had put out a three disc special doc dvd set on Somers time in the AWA he would surely be compensated for it. I’m not too sure who would buy it outside a few SUPER MARKS(I probably would, haha) but he would without a doubt be compensated. Now just because these DVD’s didn’t focus on Somers specifically they did feature him. The WWE should do the right thing and compensate Doug Somers fairly. Should he receive thousands? Hell No! But a few grand might smooth over the situation. Just my take, fairfax.

  6. McMahon says:

    I can’t think of any logical and fair reason why WWE shouldn’t be required to compensate Somers for his likeness in these. It’s really surprising that WWE would choose not to.

  7. raven12516 says:

    If he’s really been working with all those cuncussions and injuries he’s a friggin moron.

  8. rights says:

    Pretty sure he holds no rights to these. WWE owns the footage so there for I would think this makes the whole thing pointless. If this was the case the 10000 wrestlers from jobbers to refs to announcers and main eventers would be needed to be compensated if they are ever shown anywhere on WWE TV or DVD

  9. Triple J says:

    His likeness is his likeness. They need to pay him. If it were reversed they would send the hounds out on him. Right is right.

  10. JDizzle says:

    @rights, if i’m not mistaken, WWE has had this problem before. i know Owen Hart’s widow has sued WWE over unauthorised use of Owen’s likeness. i think there was a point, many years ago, where Jesse Ventura successfully sued WWE for the same thing.

    to my knowledge, owning the footage of a certain performer only gives WWE limited rights. it doesn’t give them full ownership of an image. if it did, most performers wouldn’t be able to work outside of WWE.

  11. chris says:

    Seeing how the DVD’s are distributed on a national scale, I think the WWE should pay some sort of likeness rights. Unless Mr. Somerson signed a “legends” contract, and even that would be easy to get out of, if his attorny could prove that the concussions suffered limited his capacity, which if not in full, would negate any said contract signed, because one of the main keys in a contract being valid is that all parties are of capacity.

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