Wrestler's Family Sues WWF

The family of a wrestler killed doing a stunt last month filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the World Wrestling Federation and Kansas City.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of Owen Hart's widow, Martha, their two children and his parents, Helen and Stu Hart, a pioneer of professional wrestling in Western Canada. The amount of money sought was not disclosed.

Hart, also known as "The Blue Blazer", was killed May 23 when he fell from a cable as he was being lowered into the ring at a WWF spectacle at Kemper Arena.

Hart fell more than 70 feet when the quick release on his harness opened early.

The suit lists 46 separate counts against 13 defendants. Among the defendants are the companies that manufactured the harness and cable system used in the stunt as well as the individuals who set up the rigging.

Besides the WWF and its parent company, Titan Sports, the lawsuit named WWF chairman Vincent McMahon and the city of Kansas City, the owner and operator of Kemper Arena where Hart died.

Mrs. Hart said she was suing because those responsible for her husband's death should be held accountable.

“Professional wrestling has become a showy display of graphic violence, sexual themes and dangerous stunts,” Mrs. Hart said.

She also said the WWF is promoting profit at the expense of safety.

Mrs. Hart said she was “repulsed” when she learned that the show continued after her husband's fall.

Alan Schmelzle, general manager of Kemper Arena, said the decision to continue was not out of disrespect for Hart.

“It's not like we had a meeting about it. The next show just went on,” he said. “Honestly, we didn't know at that point if he was dead.”

His family has said Hart was leery about the flashy stunt he was supposed to perform to land inside the ring, but was persuaded to do it anyway.

He had done the stunt before and had practiced at the arena hours earlier.

WWF officials declined to comment Tuesday until they see the lawsuit.