PWInsider reports that WWE has filed a new motion seeking dismissal of the class-action lawsuit against them from dozens of wrestlers claiming that the company is responsible for numerous health-related injuries over the years. The motion was filed on December 23rd and was followed by a personal motion filed by Vince McMahon, both of which again ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit and also request that the US District Court of Connecticut sanction lawyers Konstantine Kyros, Brenden Leydon, S. James Boumil, Anthony Norris, Erica C. Mirabella and R. Christopher Gilreath.
The motion argues that the Amended lawsuit, which was last updated in November, incorrectly claims that “all of the deceased wrestlers who have been studied to date had CTE” and that “several hundred wrestlers died from Alzheimer’s or dementia related injuries” per the Cauliflower Alley Club’s website. It also says that the lawsuit incorrectly alleges that WWE knew wrestlers had “received repetitive head trauma that dramatically increased their risks of developing neurological disorders because of its relationship to the CAC.”
The new motion to dismiss argues against the notion that the company is legally responsible for the claims of former talent from WCW and ECW, both of which WWE purchased in 1991. WWE claims that “The Amended Complaint falsely alleges that WWE had a continuity of ownership, management, employees, and physical location with both WCW and ECW. It also falsely alleges that Diana Myers, Aaron Blitzstein, Rob Garner, and Steve Barrett, all former WCW employees, were subsequently employed by WWE.” It adds that the ECW-related claims should be dismissed, calling them “legally frivolous because WWE acquired certain assets of ECW free and clear of all claims pursuant to an order of a federal Bankruptcy Court, because WWE did not acquire or assume any liability to Plaintiffs, and because Plaintiffs cannot plead any exception to the general rule that a corporation that merely purchases certain assets of another corporation is not liable for the seller’s liabilities.”
The motion argues that WWE did not take over WCW operations from parent company Universal Wrestling Corp, as the corporate entity still exists in name.
The motion also responds to claims that Ashley Massaro made upon joining the lawsuit in November, in which she alleged that WWE pressured her not to report a sexual assault allegation while on a military base in Kuwait for the 2006 Tribute to the Troops show. The motion calls those claims false and says, “This baseless and inflammatory allegation is wholly unrelated to the claims in this case and was presented for the improper purpose of generating negative publicity against WWE in violation of this Court’s prior admonitions.”
WWE also noted in regard to claims by the estates of Brian “Axl Rotten” Knighton and John “Balls Mahoney” Rechner that there are not any “plausible” facts that establish a casual relationship between WWE and Rechner’s heart attack or Knighton’s accidental drug overdose, saying, “Plaintiffs’ allegations are based merely on rank speculation in violation of the Court’s prior admonitions.” It adds that the claims from Rechner’s estate are “legally frivolous because Gayle Schecter is not the executor or administrator of his estate and therefore lacks standing to assert such a claim,” pointing out that a previous wrongful death lawsuit from Matt Obsorne’s girlfriend and mother of his children was dismissed for the same reason.
WWE argues that several of the Plaintiffs, “despite their claims of traumatic brain injuries from wrestling and knowledge of the reported long-term risks of such injuries,” still currently work for wrestling companies and thus their claims should be dismissed. They specifically name Caroline Moore-Begnaud (Jazz), Rodney Mack, Mark Canterbury (Henry Godwin), Bryan Clark, (Adam Bomb), Marc Copani (Muhammad Hassan), Michael Enos, Bill Eadie (Demolition Ax), Perry Saturn, Ahmed Johnson, Marty Jannetty, John Nord (Bezerker), Shane Douglas, Jimmy Snuka, Terry Szopinski (The Warlord), Mark Jindrak, Michael Halac (Mantaur), James Harrell (Boris Zukov), Rick Jones, and James “Kamala” Harris. WWE’s arguments that some of these, such as Snuka and Kamala, are working wrestling shows could relate to their appearances at shows but obviously neither of them are working matches, as both have serious health issues preventing them from doing so.
WWE additionally claims that an unnamed twenty of the plaintiffs are legally barred from suing them due to contractual agreements they made and that twenty — again unnamed — have released WWE of their claims in the lawsuit. Whether these names are in additional material from the motion, much of which was sealed, is unknown. Several of the names — Jazz, Rodney Mack, Terry Brunk (Sabu), Barry Darsow (Demolition Smash), Bill Eadie, Sylvain Grenier, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Chavo Guerrero Jr., Michael Halac, Earl Hebner, Jon Heidenreich, Marty Jannetty, Mark Jindrak, Troy Martin, Charles Bernard Scaggs (2 Cold Scorpio), Tracy Smothers, Terry Szopinksi and Sione Havea Vailahi (The Barbarian) — are argued as having been unable to “make individualized allegations to support each of its claims and does not identify the specific Plaintiffs who are asserting the claims in each count.”
The motion also says that a RICO claim brought against Vince McMahon in the November Amended Complaint “is legally frivolous because it is predicated on baseless claims of mail and wire fraud in the presentation of Booking Contracts to Plaintiffs that expressly set forth their agreement to be classified and treated as independent contractors and fails to allege that McMahon made any false statements of fact to Plaintiffs with the contemporaneous intent to defraud them.” It noted that these allegations were copied from a previously-dismissed lawsuit filed by Raven Levy and others arguing against WWE’s independent contractor classification and that there is no factual basis for them as talent willingly signed their independent contractor deals.
WWE argues that the lawyers in the case should be sanctioned because “they have disregarded the repeated admonitions of this Court and have continued to make patently false allegations, assert frivolous legal claims, and maintain this action in bad faith and for improper purposes.” It also says that the November Amended Complaint”was filed in bad faith and for the improper purposes of needlessly increasing the costs of the litigation, soliciting additional plaintiffs to sue Defendants, and attempting to exert pressure on Defendants as part of a negative media campaign.”
Finally, WWE points out that the Amended Complaint is the “thirteenth complaint or amended complaint filed against WWE” by Kyros in the last two years. Four of them have been dismissed and “the Court also has repeatedly admonished Attorney Kyros on multiple occasions for filing excessively lengthy complaints, making knowingly false and deliberately misleading statements, asserting completely irrelevant and inflammatory allegations, repeatedly misrepresenting evidence, pursuing baseless claims as part of a media campaign to pressure the Defendants with negative public relations, and engaging in highly unprofessional and vexatious conduct. This Court also has admonished Attorney Kyros and his co-counsel to adhere to the standards of professional conduct and applicable rules and court orders or risk future sanctions or referral to the Disciplinary Committee of this Court.”
A case conference is scheduled for January 24th.