Professional wrestling legend Joseph Laurinaitis, better known to fans as the Road Warrior Animal, has died at the age of 60.
His family plans to release a statement on his death later on Wednesday.
World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed his death and extended condolences to family, friends and fans.
Laurinaitis spent the majority of his professional wrestling career working alongside his tag team partner, Hawk. Together, they formed The Road Warriors. The tag team was enshrined in WWE's Hall of Fame in 2011.
Laurinaitis was one of 50 former pro wrestlers who had sued WWE, claiming it had failed to protect them from repeated head injuries, including concussions that led to long-term brain damage. Earlier this month, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City agreed with a federal judge in Connecticut who tossed the lawsuits two years ago, saying many of the claims were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations expired. Stamford, Connecticut-based WWE denied the suit's allegations.
Among the other plaintiffs were Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Chris “King Kong Bundy” Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, known as Mr. Fuji.
Snuka and Fujiwara died in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, after their deaths, according to their lawyer. Pallies died last year of undisclosed causes. Other plaintiffs have dementia and other illnesses, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, which also named WWE Chairman Vince McMahon as a defendant, said the organization knew the risks of head injuries but didn’t warn the wrestlers. U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant in Hartford, however, said there was no evidence that WWE knew that concussions or head blows during wrestling matches caused CTE.
"I Am More Than Saddened To Hear Of The Loss Of My Good Friend And GREAT Opponent Joe Laurinaitis Of The Legendary Road Warriors. They Were Iconic!" WWE wrestler Ric Flair tweeted.