Lawyer responds to comments, committed to fighting for Daffney’s rights

Oct 14, 2013 - by Steve Gerweck

Christian Garstin via Facebook:

The comments are interesting to say the least. Although not a die-hard professional wrestling fan, I highly respect wrestlers as athletes. This is an important issue concerning their entitlement to benefits for injuries suffered in the ring, benefits that I think they are clearly entitled to receive, and I intend to fight hard to secure their rights to these benefits. Social media has been very influential in this regard, and I appreciate the support not only from Daffney’s fans; but also from those in the industry who truly understand the importance of this issue and advocate for the individuals who put their bodies on the line to make millions for the organizations they wrestler for. Sadly, however, the mailroom clerks for these organizations likely receive far more benefits than the wrestlers who are the lifeblood of the industry. Without wrestlers, the sport ceases to exist. For those who oppose the issue and contend that wrestlers are independent contractors: “You can put lipstick on a pig; but it’s still a pig.” I sincerely hope that change is on the horizon.

Garstin also commented on our message board, responding to being called a “scumbag lawyer” (Article: Daffney vs. TNA not a dead issue)

To Fisha695:

By way of introduction, I am the “scumbag lawyer” you so eloquently refer to in your comment. Respectfully, it is quite obvious that you wholly fail to comprehend the primary issue that was involved in Daffney’s case, which continues to be the primary issue going forward, i.e. the employment classification of professional wrestlers. This issue is quite simple to understand, and I would certainly be willing to draw you a picture (with stick figures of course) if you can’t read and write at an 8th grade level. However, I assume that you can; therefore, let me now explain this issue in the simplest terms at the risk of putting a spotlight on the ignorance of your comment.

The issue is not whether Daffney v. TNA is dead, as your comment insinuates. Instead, the issue concerns the classification of professional wrestlers as independent contractors versus employees. To better clarify this issue for you, independent contractors are not entitled to the same benefits that employees are entitled to receive, i.e. medical benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, etc. When wrestlers like Daffney are injured in the ring, should they be precluded from receiving medical and other benefits based on the contention that they are not employees of the organizations that they wrestle for?

I believe that most professional wrestlers are paid per appearance, and the amount of money that they receive for these appearances is nominal at best. Despite this, however, these same wrestlers are the ones primarily responsible for making millions for organizations like TNA. Having said this, these organizations should be held accountable for payment of medical bills, etc. when its wrestlers or “talent” suffer injuries in the ring doing the very things that the organization has asked them to do or has scripted, which are coincidentally the very things that the organization profits from. Obviously, TNA didn’t think so in Daffney’s case.

Organizations like TNA contend that wrestlers like Daffney are not entitled to payment of medical bills or other benefits because they are independent contractors as opposed to employees. I don’t expect you to know the law, sir; but I will tell you that in defending workers’ compensation cases for almost 10 years, this contention is a gross misclassification in my opinion. Regardless of how wrestlers like Daffney are classified or identified in their contracts, irrespective of whether they are specifically identified therein as an independent contractor, they are clearly employees of the organizations they wrestle for. As the saying goes: “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

Overall, perhaps your comment about me stems solely from your personal opinion that all lawyers are scumbags. Maybe that kid in school who kissed your girlfriend and stole your lunch money eventually became a lawyer. I don’t know; but I trust that if you take the time to apply a common sense approach to the central issue in Daffney’s case and others, you will quickly realize the motivation surrounding this issue. Having said this, it seems to me that insofar as you’re likely a professional wrestling fan, you can at least comprehend the fact that the most important individuals in the industry are the wrestlers themselves. Without them, the industry doesn’t exist or survive. They are the most valuable commodity in the industry, far more valuable than the clerk in the mailroom who receives the same employee benefits that organizations like TNA refuse to provide to its wrestlers.

In closing, I wish to apologize for being the scumbag lawyer who intends to fight damn hard to protect my clients’ rights where their entitlement to benefits is concerned. The cost of these benefits is modest to say the least, especially when considering the nominal payment they receive per appearance. In fact, the amount of money you last paid to see your favorite wrestler(s), whether for a ticket or for pay-per-view, was likely far more than what they were paid to entertain you.


The Scumbag Lawyer

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