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PUNK VS. CABANA LAWSUIT UPDATES: ONE COUNT AGAINST PUNK DISMISSED, PUNK RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS FOR FIRST TIME & MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2019-04-15 09:05:00

The ongoing lawsuit brought by Ring of Honor star Scott “Colt Cabana” Colton against former WWE Champion Phil “CM Punk” Brooks in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois has seen one of the two allegations against Punk dismissed, leading to Punk personally responding before the court for the first time about Cabana's allegations of unpaid legal fees and breach of contract, stemming from the lawsuit that WWE physician Doctor Chris Amann filed against the two in the fallout of Punk's appearance on Cabana's November 2014 Art of Wrestling podcast.

For simplicity, we have broken down the latest moves in the lawsuit by the dates they were filed:

MARCH 15th

On 3/15, Judge Daniel J. Kubasiak ruled on CM Punk’s motion to dismiss the amended lawsuit Cabana brought against him.  In that filing, Punk argued that Cabana again failed to explain under Illinois law why the amended lawsuit should be allowed move forward after the initial filing was dismissed.  Punk's attorneys are claiming that Cabana have failed to properly argue why the lawsuit should stand, instead choosing to point back to the allegations in the amended lawsuit. 

In the 3/15 ruling, each side gained a small victory.  Judge Kubasiak ruled that while Punk's text that Colt Cabana would be "100% covered" in regard to Dr. Chris Amann lawsuit was not "definite and certain enough to constitute an offer that could support an enforceable contract", a later email from Punk's attorney offering to continue to represent Cabana after Punk and Cabana had a falling out over the course of the Amann lawsuit "constituted an offer sufficient at this stage so as to establish that an enforceable contract exists between Colton and Brooks." 

The email in question: "Despite your unwillingness to contribute to your legal fees, I am still prepared to represent you, and Phil is prepared to have me represent you and cover your legal fees going forward, as long as there is no conflict between you and Phil that prevents me from fairly and ethically representing you. At this time, I don't believe that any such conflict exists..."

So, the court let that count move forward in order to it to be sorted out if and when the case goes to trial.  Whether it actually was indeed a legitimate, enforceable contract will be the crux of the case going forward if and when they actually go to trial.

However, the allegation of fraud against Punk was dismissed as Judge Kubasiak as Cabana once again failed to allege a successful fraud claim, instead making statements that Brooks "knew or should have known" that the court dismissed.  The count was dismissed without prejudice, which does leave the door for Cabana to revisit it down the line with a different argument, but this is the second time the court has shot such an argument down, which means that unless Cabana can provide concrete proof that Punk and his attorneys decided to actively defraud him, it likely won't be revisited.

As of 3/15, the case was down to one simple count against Punk, based around the premise that when Punk's attorney emailed offering to continue to represent Cabana for free (as Punk was footing the bllls) in the Amann lawsuit, that could indeed constitute an offer from Punk's side to Cabana.   

APRIL 8th

On 4/8, CM Punk filed his first official response to Colt Cabana's lawsuit, noting that all claims related to fraud accusations had been dismissed by the court, therefore he had no reason to respond to them.  

Other highlights from the response filing included the following:

*In regard to Cabana's claim that Punk asked to be on Cabana's podcast The Art of Wrestling, Punk responded, "Brooks admits only that he was interviewed by Colton for an episode of  Colton's podcast. Brooks denies the remaining allegations of Paragraph 6 because it was Colton who had wanted, and had repeatedly requested, Brooks to be on his podcast, a vehicle through which Colton seeks to promote and financially benefit himself, and for which Brooks was not compensated."

*In regard to the Dr. Chris Amann's demand letter to Cabana demanding the podcast be removed, Punk responded, "...he believed the Demand Letter was a retaliatory measure  against him initiated by the WWE" and denied all other "characterizations and allegations" about that letter that were alleged by Cabana.  He also denied Cabana's claim that Punk believed the letter was likely to lead to WWE litigation against Punk.

Regarding the text message conversation where Punk allegedly stated Cabana would be "100% covered" in any legal action regarding the Amann situation, Punk responded, "Brooks admits only that Colton advised him by text message on December 16, 2014 that Colton had received a physical copy of the “Demand Letter.” Brooks denies all the  remaining allegations in Paragraph 14 through which Colton seeks to conjure a legal claim, although his effort is totally undermined by the text messages he attached as Group Exhibit C to  his Complaint." 

*Punk also responded that claims he would 100% cover Cabana "are entirely unfounded, are totally false, and are insulting."

*On Cabana's statement that he had notified Punk he was accepting an offer to have Punk cover his costs and any liability or legal fees Cabana might incur, "Brooks denies that any such notice was given, denies that any such offer was ever made by him to Colton, and denies all remaining allegations of Paragraph 16. Brooks further  answers that he expended enormous sums of his own money defending Colton in the Amman Lawsuit as an act of friendship and generosity only to have Colton attempt to weaponize that generosity against Brooks in a shameless effort to get even more money from Brooks or publicity, or perhaps both." 

*While admitting that Cabana did not respond to Amann's requests to have the Art of Wrestling podcast episode removed, Punk denied there was any formal "agreement" between the two sides.

*In regard to a claim there was an Indemnity Agreement between the two sides that would have resulted in Punk handling Cabana's legal fees, Punk stated, "Brooks admits only that he paid a substantial amount of money for Colton's legal expenses in the defense of the Amman Lawsuit out of an act of friendship and generosity.   Brooks denies there was ever any “Indemnity Agreement,” and denies all remaining allegations."  Punk repeated the claim that he was paying the legal fees out of "friendship and generosity" several additional times in his response.

*In regard to the April 2016 email that had been revealed when Cabana filed the lawsuit last year where Punk demanded Cabana pay half of their legal fees (up until that point) and that Punk had given up on Cabana doing "what was right", Punk explained for the first time, his stance on that email, writing, "Brooks admits that he gave up long ago on hoping Colton would do what is right. Brooks further admits that, at the time of the quoted message, he felt that given a lack of reciprocation in their friendship, that he wanted Colton to finally pay toward his own legal defense expenses, which to that point Colton had contributed absolutely nothing. Brooks also admits that in Paragraph 24, Colton accurately quoted words from an email by Brooks. Brooks denies that there ever was any “Indemnity Agreement” and denies all the remaining characterizations and allegations in Paragraph 24. "

*Punk also responded to email exchange between Punk's attorney and Cabana, where Cabana was advised that he could still be represented by Punk's team - the email at the center of the court allowing that aspect of the case to move forward -, alleging that the entire email exchange has not been revealed to the court by Cabana, writing, "Brooks admits only that Colton has accurately quoted some, but not all, of the words in the email referenced in Paragraph 29 and attached to Colton's Complaint as Exhibit G.   Brooks denies any remaining allegations."

Punk also denied the allegation, made by Cabana, that the legal offer from Punk's attorney was made on his behalf and also denied that he "asked, demanded or otherwise caused" the team to withdraw as Cabana's legal counsel.  What led to Punk's attorneys dropping Cabana as a client is covered later on in the filing.

Punk's response also denied a claim by Cabana that right after they successfully defeated Dr. Chris Amann in court last year, that Cabana's new counsel Carey Stein (a Cabana family friend who also represents Cabana in this matter as well), notified Punk's legal team, demanding $200,000 for Cabana's legal fees and costs. 

*Regarding a claim that Punk's legal team refused to comply with that request, Punk stated, "Brooks denies the allegations contained in Paragraph 37 to the extent they assert or suggest that Brooks was or is required to reimburse Colton for Colton's own separate defense of the Amman Lawsuit. Brooks admits only that after paying many hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal defense expenses on behalf of Colton in the Amman Lawsuit to which Colton refused to contribute any money, he finds it telling that Colton is still yet seeking even more money from Brooks. Brooks denies all remaining allegations in Paragraph 37."

Punk also commented on Cabana requesting $200,000, writing, "Brooks admits that Colton has demanded money from Brooks toward Colton's legal defense expenses above and beyond the many hundreds of thousands of dollars Brooks had already paid for Colton's defense expenses in the Amman Lawsuit as a gesture of friendship and generosity that Brooks has long learned was entirely misguided. Brooks denies that Colton is entitled to any money from Brooks and denies any remaining allegations in Paragraph 49."

Punk then laid out his defense for the remaining count against him, arguing that any alleged agreement between the two "are so indefinite as to be unenforceable as a contract under Illinois law."  

Punk then argued that even if it was ruled that he and Cabana indeed had an enforceable agreement, the agreement was severed by Cabana, writing, "Even assuming any valid contract between Brooks and Colton existed as alleged by Colton in the Complaint (which it did not), Brenner's June 1, 2016 e-mail to Colton attached as  Exhibit G to the Complaint stated, in part, that “[Brooks) is prepared to have me represent you and cover your legal fees going forward, as long as there is no conflict between you and [Brooks) that  prevents me from fairly and ethically representing you.” Brenner and/or the Loeb Firm advised Colton on or around March 1, 2017 that a conflict did arise between Brooks and Colton which prevented Brenner from fairly and ethically representing both parties, thereby triggering the contingency/condition in the alleged “agreement” that resulted in a termination of the “agreement.”

Whatever that trigger was remains unexplained before the court, but Punk's response claims that whatever "conflict did arise" would have been great enough to lead to Punk's legal team removing themselves from representing Cabana "fairly and ethically." 

Punk's defense argument, in essence, is that Cabana was being covered legally, but something Cabana allegedly did ended up creating a situation that led to Punk's team having to drop him as a client.  Therefore, if they had an enforceable agreement, it would have been terminated because of Cabana's actions.  Ergo, Cabana would not be eligible for financial damages.  If and when that series of events is revealed before the court, it will be up to the court to decide which side falls under the right side of the law.

Punk is also arguing that even if there was an agreement between the two sides, Cabana would severed that agreement in June 2016 when he informed Punk's team he was willing to pay for his own legal defense against Chris Amann going forward on 6/2/16.

WHAT NEXT

On 4/9, it was ruled discovery in the case would continue through 5/7 and that there would be a case management conference on 5/21 at 9:30 AM.  From there, it's up to the presiding judge to decide what direction the case continues, whether Cabana's remaining claim should be thrown out or whether the two sides should be ordered to attempt to settle the issue.  

Thanks to Billy Krotchsen for his assistance. 

 

 

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