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SCOTT D'AMORE AT CENTER OF LATEST JEFF JARRETT/GFW VS. ANTHEM WRESTLING/IMPACT LEGAL WRANGLING

By Mike Johnson on 2019-12-05 14:23:00

Impact Wrestling’s Scott D’Amore was at the center of the most recent legal wrangling in the lawsuit Jeff Jarrett and his company, Global Wrestling Entertainment have brought against Impact Wrestling parent company, Anthem Wrestling.

As previously reported, the lawsuit centers around the usage and deletion of Jarrett’s GFW Amped! tapes, which had been produced when Jarrett (now with WWE) had held a series of TV tapings in Las Vegas with the intentions of finding a TV home for his Global Force Wrestling promotion.  When that did not happen and he was brought on board as Chief Creative Officer by Anthem to oversee Impact Wrestling after they seized control of the company from Dixie Carter, the GFW tapes were utilized on PPV and DVD.  After Jarrett was terminated from Impact in the midst of personal issues, he later sued, claiming Anthem did not have the rights to monetize the material, that they had ruined the worth of the content in the marketplace as well as his GFW company and that he was unable to copyright the content because they would not return his masters.  It was learned over the course of the case that the masters had been deleted by Anthem/Impact.  Jarrett has also fought to regain the trademark and copyright to his name, which Impact Wrestling had been assigned.  Anthem took over the rights to those trademarks when gained control of the company.

The case has gone back and forth, leading to Anthem filing a counter-claim against Jarrett that alleged that all but one of Jarrett’s claims arise from decisions that Jarrett was responsible for making while working for Anthem as Impact Wrestling’s Chief Creative Officer, meaning he would be responsible for everything he is alleging they did to damage GFE and himself.

Of late, Jarrett’s side had been pursuing D’Amore in order to depose him before a previously ordered cutoff of discovery on 12/6.  Once that date had passed, discovery (a portion of the lawsuit process where each side gets to investigate and reveal what they believe will assist their case) would be halted.  There was a telephone conference, during which the two parties agreed that D’Amore could be deposed after that date.

However, since D’Amore is a Canadian citizen, they were left with an issue – D’Amore could not be ordered by the United States court to submit himself to being deposed since he, not being an American citizen, would be out of United States jurisdiction.  This left Jarrett’s side having to potentially spend over $4,000 in legal fees in Canada to request D’Amore be allowed to be deposed, and then be forced to wait for that legal process to play off, delaying the lawsuit here in the United States until D’Amore actually testifies.

Anthem has argued to the court that D’Amore, an Executive Vice President for Impact Wrestling, is actually an independent contractor, therefore under American law, they cannot “force Mr. D’Amore to testify or accept service for him because he is an independent contractor.”

This led to a showdown on 11/26, where Jarrett’s side argued that D’Amore occasionally works out of Impact’s Nashville office and sends and receives emails through an Impact/Anthem email account. 

It was argued, “Defendant should produce Scott D’Amore, an officer and/or executive of Defendant Anthem Wrestling, for deposition because “a subpoena is not necessary to compel attendance at a deposition if the person to be examined is an officer, director, or managing agent of the party.” 

Arguing that D’Amore has been presented as “either Vice-President or Executive Vice-President of Defendant”, Jarrett’s side told the court, “Mr. D’Amore is a key fact witness who will testify at least as to (1) when Defendant actually decided to terminate Plaintiff Jarrett; (2) Defendant’s decision to air content for which it knew it had not rights despite the risk of litigation (see email attached as Exhibit 2) after Mr. Jarrett’s termination; (3) his taking over Plaintiff Jarrett’s role upon Plaintiff Jarrett’s termination; (4) Defendant’s refusing to pay for the use of the content even though it knew it had an obligation to do so; (5) the value of the content at issue if it was independently created; and (6) Defendant’s ongoing use of Plaintiff Global Force Entertainment, Inc.’s trademarks without payment to Plaintiff Global Force Entertainment, Inc.”

Jarrett’s attorneys had agreed that they would travel to Canada to depose D’Amore the week of 11/12 in Toronto when they would be there to depose other witnesses.  Anthem’s attorneys never responded and noted that even though a notice of deposition and subpoena was delivered to Anthem, they had no authority to accept for D’Amore, who lived four hours from Toronto.  Jarrett’s side offered to hold a video deposition and Anthem again stated that D’Amore was not an employee of the company, even though Anthem’s website and D’Amore’s Twitter state he is Executive Vice President of Anthem Wrestling and that Ed Nordholm in his own deposition confirmed “Mr. D’Amore is an Executive and Vice-President of Defendant, which means Mr. D’Amore is an officer of Defendant, and is on the committee that manages the operations of Defendant”

Jarrett’s attorneys noted they asked for contact information for D’Amore and his own personal attorneys and received nothing.

They also noted that they learned that D’Amore was in Nashville on 11/20 and that they had “confirmed Mr. D’Amore’s presence in Nashville through Kevin Sullivan, a third-party witness. Mr. Sullivan saw Mr. D’Amore at Defendant’s Nashville office on November 19, 2019, apparently doing work for Defendant. He also stated Mr. D’Amore’s pattern was to come into Nashville for  short visits. Mr. Sullivan stated that he has not seen Mr. D’Amore since November 19, 2019.  Thus it appears Mr. D’Amore was no longer present in Nashville as of November 21, 2019, which is a fact that Defendant should be able to confirm.”

The Kevin Sullivan listed would be the former Impact Wrestling Vice President of Production/Executive Producer/Development/Creative Director, who left the company this past October for All Elite Wrestling.    Anthem had previously disclosed that they paid Sullivan's production company, KSTV, LLC $40,000 towards an installment plan in order to get the GFW Amped content (which had not been completed, allegedly due to Jarrett being unable to pay for the work to be finished) released so that the material could be completed and used.    Sullivan was brought back into Impact when Jarrett was hired by Anthem and remained even after Jarrett was terminated until leaving for AEW earlier this year, taking a number of Impact employees with him, according to Anthem Wrestling President Ed Nordholm.  

Jarrett’s attorneys argued, “Defendant has known of Plaintiffs’ request to depose Mr. D’Amore for months.  Yet, Defendant took the position that it would not accept service or tell Mr. D’Amore to appear for a deposition. Had Defendant simply told Plaintiffs or their counsel that Mr. D’Amore was going to be in Nashville on November 19, 2019, the deposition (which is expected not to last more than 2 to 3 hours) could have easily, inexpensively, and timely been completed without needing to go beyond the discovery deadline, spend $4000+ for letters rogatory, and without involvement of the Court.  By the time Defendant’s learned Mr. D’Amore was in Nashville, it was too late to serve him with a subpoena. Plaintiffs’ counsel reached out to Mr. D’Amore’s alleged attorney (according to Mr. D’Amore) on November 20, 2019, yet there is presently no confirmation that Mr. D’Amore is willing to attend a deposition via teleconference. In fact, Mr. D’Amore’s attorney did not clearly confirm he is Mr. D’Amore’s attorney by responding with a vague reference as to with Mr. D’Amore had a retainer.”

It was noted in the filing that D’Amore currently owns 5% of Global Force Entertainment and is “a silent shareholder with no functions, responsibilities, or ongoing involvement with the company. Global Force Entertainment, Inc., a corporation, has no more authority to force Mr. D’Amore to show up for a deposition than Walmart would have to force someone who owns shares in that company.”

Anthem responded, “Defendant’s position is simple. Mr. D’Amore is an independent contractor, not an employee. He is a resident and citizen of Windsor, Canada. When Plaintiff asked to depose him in Toronto, Defendant’s counsel inquired of her client as to his whereabouts and availability. The client informed Defendant’s counsel that Mr. D’Amore was an independent contractor and had his own legal counsel and that he lived and worked four hours away from Toronto. Defendant’s counsel asked her client to ask Mr. D’Amore whether he would authorize her to accept service for him. Mr. D’Amore relayed back that Defendant’s counsel did not have the authority to accept service for him and that he had his own legal counsel. In the absence of Mr. D’Amore’s agreement and granting of authority, Defendant’s counsel cannot accept service for him, especially outside  the country where he lives and works. “

Anthem noted they do not “consider Mr. D’Amore to be an important player in this drama, yet Plaintiff obviously disagrees. In fact, Plaintiffs revealed Mr. D’Amore as an individual with discoverable knowledge in their own initial disclosures served over a year ago” and that Jarrett’s side sought to depose D’Amore as far back as April, so they cannot complain that Anthem “has hidden Mr. D’Amore’s existence or that they didn’t realize he was  important to their case.”

Anthem also argued that since D’Amore is one of two shareholders in GFE (the other being Jarrett), GFE has “as much access, if not more, than does Anthem Wrestling. At a minimum, Plaintiff knew that Mr. D’Amore was a Canadian citizen that lives and works in Windsor, Canada, before this litigation ever began. Plaintiff has had more than a year to serve Mr. D’Amore and has not done so. That is a problem of his own making.  “

Anthem attorney also noted that they learned D’Amore was in Nashville from Jarrett’s attorneys, so “Clearly, Plaintiff had knowledge of his whereabouts and could have served him when he was in town, but failed to do so. Moreover, Defendant’s counsel spoke to Mr. D’Amore on the phone and obtained his lawyer’s contact information. Defendant has no objection to Mr. D’Amore being deposed, whether in Nashville or Windsor. Defendant also agreed to an extension of the discovery deadline in order for Plaintiff to depose Mr. D’Amore. Defendant, however, has no ability to compel him to appear. For these reasons, Plaintiff’s request should be denied.”

The court ruled on 11/26 that Since D’Amore is an officer of the Defendant he may be noticed for a deposition, but he need not be subpoenaed.  The two sides were ordered to work out details for D’Amore to take part in a 2-3 hour deposition, either in person or via video conference.

As of this morning, that deposition has yet to take place, PWInsider.com has confirmed. 

D’Amore, however, was in Nashville earlier this week on Anthem business, including attending the Impact Wrestling Christmas Party.

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