SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This afternoon, a jury decided that C.M. Punk and Colt Cabana won’t have to pay damages in a lawsuit brought against them by WWE doctor Chris Amann. The trial started last week and included testimony from Punk and Cabana focused around defending their portrayal of Dr. Amann’s handling of Punk’s health leading up to and during the Royal Rumble. Punk discussed his gripes at length in a November 2014 podcast interview on “Art of Wrestling” with Cabana. Cabana was a longtime friend of Punk’s.
Amann sought nearly $4 million in damages, one dollar for each recorded download or stream of the podcast.
WrestleZone reporter Nick Hausman, who covered the trial in person, reported on the reaction in the courtroom. “Cabana looks very relieved,” he wrote on Twitter. “Punk & AJ are currently in a tight embrace and crying. Amann is staring off blankly.”
Cabana looks very relieved. Punk & AJ are currently in a tight embrace and crying. Amann is staring off blankly.
— Nick Hausman (@WZRebel) June 5, 2018
Dr. Amann claimed Punk made false statements, including exaggerations, which defamed him, and that Cabana published them knowing they were false. A jury disagreed, and took just two hours to reach their verdict. In closing arguments, Amann’s attorney told the jury Punk exaggerated on purpose because he was upset with a change in Punk’s role in the Royal Rumble. The attorney argued that fans chanting for Punk and Tweeting about Punk was an example of fans lashing back at Amann for his treatment of Punk. The attorney told the jury if what Punk said was actually true, he would have done more than just complain on a podcast about it. He said Cabana did not challenge Punk on assertions that lacked credibility.
Punk said during his testimony that the podcast got the “gist” of the facts correct. His attorney, during closing arguments, said the burden of proof is on the plaintiffs, and the burden of “gist” is on the defense, and they reached that threshold. The attorney noted that Dr. Amann has no problems with coworkers, friends, or patients, has not sought therapy for emotional distress from the podcast, and sleeps eight hours a night. The attorney said Amann comes from an up bringing of privilege, where hurt feelings are worth millions to him, but he shouldn’t care about “the trolls of the world.” He said Punk’s memory of his medical issues would be more accurate than a very busy doctor, and that the lump really did exist, even though few saw it, because Punk showered and changed in his bus.