SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
There was significant activity over the past week in the ongoing concussion lawsuit presented by former WWE wrestlers Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton (plaintiffs) against WWE (defendants) playing out in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.
Notably, on May 27 (Friday), WWE filed a motion attempting to seal certain exhibits in a response opposing LoGrasso/Singleton’s motion for production of documents.
WWE said the exhibits “contain material that has been designated as confidential pursuant to the Court’s standing protective order governing this action. These exhibits contains proprietary business information of WWE that has not been made public by WWE.”
Specific to the concussion lawsuit, court records show there was a recent back-and-forth exchange between legal teams on which WWE officers/representatives and third parties should provide testimony on the subject of concussions.
The big dispute was whether Triple H and Stephanie McMahon need to give testimony. WWE attempted to excuse Stephanie from depositions on May 26, reasoning that she already testified before Congress several years ago. Also, WWE said they “continue to believe that Plaintiffs have not identified any legitimate basis for taking Ms. McMahon’s deposition.”
WWE said they were not making Hunter available individually for depositions on May 25, but they were making him available on May 30 or 31 as a “corporate designee” to speak on behalf of WWE. This was right against the discovery period deadline of June 1.
However, in a legal filing on May 25, WWE said Hunter’s deposition scheduled for May 31 was postponed. WWE said the Plaintiffs postponed the testimony, where Hunter would have been interviewed “both as a corporate designee and in his individual capacity.”
Prior to May 25, there was a lengthy email exchange between both parties. In an email dated May 16, WWE’s legal team argued “there is no basis for the Plaintiffs to take the deposition of Mr. Levesque for a total of 14 hours given the limited scope of the issues on which the Court has permitted discovery. On May 30, you will be able to examine Mr. Levesque regarding those narrow issues based on his personal knowledge and based on the information known or reasonably available to WWE within the allotted seven hours for deposition.” Other documentation showed Hunter was to be made available on May 31.
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon was scheduled to be deposed on May 27.
The other big players are former NXT head trainer Bill DeMott, WWE’s concussion doctor Dr. Maroon, and WWE ringside physician Chris Amann, who is in the middle of his own legal battle with C.M. Punk and Colt Cabana.
Dr. Maroon was made available for depositions on the morning of May 20, but he was restricted to a four-hour window because he was set to perform surgery in the afternoon. WWE also said he would be unavailable until June 1 “due to a pre-paid vacation that he scheduled.”
According to WWE’s May 25 filing, Dr. Maroon was deposed from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on May 20. “Dr. Maroon provided full and complete testimony on the relevant issues,” WWE claimed to the court. Now, “WWE further objects to any continuation of Dr. Maroon’s deposition, which, given Dr. Maroon’s schedule, would have to occur outside of the discovery period.”
DeMott was scheduled to be deposed on May 17 and Dr. Amann was scheduled for May 20, according to records. According to WWE’s legal filing on May 25, the deposition of Dr. Amann was set for June 1. Also, third party Chris Nowinski was scheduled to be deposed on June 1.
The email exchange between legal teams was attached to a motion filed by LoGrasso/Singleton’s representatives on May 17. They asked the court to compel WWE to “provide complete responses to Plaintiffs’s corrected first requests for productions of documents,” which were served on February 12. They believe WWE was withholding information until the discovery deadline.
LoGrasso/Singleton claimed “WWE has withheld documents directly relevant to this litigation, prejudicing Plaintiff’s ability to notice and take meaningful depositions in this matter. Plaintiffs therefore respectfully request this Court grant their motion to compel complete responses.”
Meanwhile, WWE claimed in a 45-page filing on May 27 from lead attorney Jerry McDevitt that the Plaintiffs “waited until the very end of the discovery period in this case to file an ’emergency motion’ to compel the production of additional documents,” which WWE claims are “completely irrelevant to the narrow issues the Court authorized for discovery.” Essentially, both sides are claiming the other played a game of musical chairs waiting for the music to stop in order to act.
WWE’s 45-page filing included a request that the court “should end discovery as scheduled on June 1, 2016 to permit WWE to file its motion for summary judgment.” WWE presented a lengthy argument that the claims presented by LoGrasso/Singleton are meritless and they want the Court to rule if discovery is closed on June 1.
However, WWE said, “if the Plaintiffs contend that any additional discovery is necessary to enable them to oppose summary judgment, the Court may consider such a request.” WWE qualified their stance by saying the court should not “permit Plaintiffs to engage in a fishing expedition regarding every document that WWE may have referring to concussions and expanding the relevant time period for discovery by five additional years,” arguing that it “serves no purpose other than to increase delay and expense.”
WWE closed their filing by claiming “the undisputed facts demonstrate that neither Singleton nor LoGrasso could articulate any basis for a fraud claim against WWE.” WWE added that they believe LoGrasso’s claim is “both time-barred and frivolous.”
WWE concluded that “for the reasons set forth above, the Court should deny Plaintiffs’s second emergency motion to compel responses to the corrected first requests for production of documents in its entirety.” WWE is essentially arguing that they believe they satisfied the requirement to produce witnesses for testimony, no further action is needed on their part, the concussion suit is meritless, and they want the Court to make a decision.
Next week’s proceedings will should be just as compelling centered on the June 1 deadline for discovery and what the LoGrasso/Singleton camp files in response to WWE’s Friday filing.
The case is being presided over by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant.