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JUDGE HOLDS UP SANCTIONING AGAINST ATTORNEY BEHIND WWE CONCUSSION-RELATION LAWSUITS

By Mike Johnson on 2018-07-23 16:09:00

In a ruling issued yesterday in the United States District Court of Connecticut, Judge Vanessa L. Bryant ruled that she was upholding sanctions brought against Konstantine Kyros, the attorney who has brought many of the concussion-related lawsuits against World Wrestling Entertainment over the last several years.

WWE had requested the sanctions in late 2016 against Kyros and other associated attorneys, "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." 

WWE also stated that an amended complaint in the lawsuit, "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."

At the time, WWE also noted, "The Amended Complaint is the thirteenth complaint or amended complaint filed against WWE by Attorney Kyros in the past two years. The Court has already dismissed four of the prior lawsuits brought by Attorney Kyros, including two putative class actions and two wrongful death actions.   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."

The sanctions were originally ruled upon by Judge Robert Richardson, who recommended that Kyros be forced to pay for WWE’s legal fees in relation to filing for the sanctions.  Kyros appealed the decision, kicking the decision back to Judge Bryant, who had been overseeing the WWE-concussion related lawsuits.

Kyros had argued that improperly required the plaintiffs to specifically identify statements of speakers in their responses – Richardson was unhappy Kyros was pointing to books and articles, as opposed to specific statements made by specific people, that the Plaintiffs intended to amend their filings, which would have made the sanctions no longer necessary and that Judge Richardson unfairly singled out Kyros for financial sanctions. 

Judge Bryant claimed that none of Kyros’ three arguments proved in showing Richardson's ruling to sanction Kyros were contrary to the law or "clearly erroneous."

In her ruling yesterday, Bryant wrote, “When an interrogatory requests that the Plaintiffs identify “each and every ‘deceptive public statement’” or that the Plaintiffs “identify in detail who at WWE specifically stated, ‘that WWE wrestlers with diagnosed brain trauma did not receive these injuries as a result of wrestling for WWE,’” the interrogatory requires the Plaintiffs to identify statements or speakers or to state that such information is unknown. Responding vaguely that an individual made public statements, without providing these statements, is both non-responsive, contrary to the essential purposes of discovery, and a violation of the Court’s ruling on Defendants’ motion to compel.”

On the second argument, Bryant ruled that Kyros did not inform the court of that within the allotted time period, therefore the argument against Richardson’s initial ruling was not correct.

On the claim that Kyros had been unfairly singled out by Judge Richardson, Judge Bryant noted, “Judge Richardson cited several examples in which the Court had previously chastised Attorney Kyros for failing to comply with the Court’s orders and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Judge Richardson’s determination that an additional warning would not be sufficient to deter future abuses was therefore not clearly erroneous.”

Therefore, the sanctioning was withheld.  Kyros can seek out his co-counsel to financially contribute to the sanctioning against him but cannot request or require his clients to contribute.

WWE has successfully fought off lawsuits brought against them by former WWF/E performers Billy Jack Haynes, Ryan Sakoda, Matt "Luther Reigns" Wiese, Vito LoGrasso, Evan Singleton and Russ McCullough as well as suits filed by the estate of the late Nelson Frazier Jr. (Big Daddy V, among other characters) and Michelle James, the mother of the late Matt "Doink the Clown" Osbourne's children dismissed.

Still ongoing before Judge Bryant is another lawsuit brought against WWE by dozens of other former WWF/WWE contracted performers (as well as talents who worked for the company in the past on a per match basis) in July 2016 regarding WWE's alleged handling of concussions and the classification of WWE performers as independent contractors instead of employees.  That lawsuit was also brought before the court by Kyros and other associates.  In a February 2017 motion, attorneys for the plaintiff claimed the lawsuit was not just about CTE, "but rather a much broader series of claims relating to WWE’s violation of numerous common law, contractual and statutory rights of the Plaintiffs resulting in financial as well as physical injury."

WWE has argued that several of those Plaintiffs "despite their claims of traumatic brain injuries from wrestling and knowledge of the reported long-term risks of such injuries", still currently perform for professional wrestling groups, therefore, their claims should be dismissed.  In that argument, WWE specifically named Carlene Moore-Begnaud (Jazz), Rodney "Mack" Begnaud, Terry Brunk (Sabu), Barry Darsow (Demolition Smash aka Repo Man), Bill Eadie, Sylvain Grenier, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Salvador Guerrero IV (Chavo Guerrero Jr.), Michael Halac (Mantaur), Earl Hebner, Jon Heidenreich, Marty Jannetty, Mark Jindrak, Troy Martin (Shane Douglas), Charles Bernard Scaggs (2 Cold Scorpio), Tracy Smothers, Terry Szopinksi (The Warlord), and Sione Havea Vailahi (The Barbarian).

WWE has also argued that in that case, plaintiffs Caroline Moore-Begnaud (Jazz), Rodney "Mack" Begnaud, Mark Canterbury (Henry Godwin), Bryan Emmett Clark Jr. (Adam Bomb aka Wrath), Marc Copani (Muhammad Hassan), Michael Enos, Bill Eadie (Demolition Ax/Masked Superstar), Perry Saturn, Anthony Norris (Ahmed Johnson), Marty Jannetty, John Nord (Bezerker), Troy Martin (Shane Douglas), James "Jimmy" Snuka-Reiher, Terry Szopinski (The Warlord), Mark Jindrak,  Michael Halac (Mantaur), James Harrell (Boris Zukov), Rick Jones, and James "Kamala" Harris are each legally barred from pursuing WWE due to contractual agreements they made with the company.

That lawsuit continues to wind through the system under Judge Vanessa L. Bryant.

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