More details have emerged regarding the unfolding lawsuit by WWE doctor Chris Amann against former WWE World Champion Phil Brooks (aka CM Punk) and Colt Cabana. The lawsuit is based on the Art of Wrestling podcast from November 2014 when Punk criticized the WWE, and he also accused Amann of misdiagnosing a serious staph infection injury he had.
Here is the latest on a number of filings for the case that was filed with The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Amann is suing for $1 million in damages, plus punitive damages. Below are some highlights:
* For his initial court filing, Amann used transcripts from the podcast to build a case that Punk and Cabana attacked him and impugned his standing as a medical physician. Amann claimed that Punk never asked him to treat or excise a lump in his back. Amann also claims that Punk never showed him the lump in question for diagnosis or treatment. In addition, he says that he never prescribed antibiotics for “a lump in his back, broken ribs or concussion.”
* Amann says the comments against him by Punk and Cabana were “false and defamatory.” Those comments were also magnified by all the coverage the podcast received online. He adds that the two knowingly “fabricated” the statements, published those statements with negligence, and that Cabana and Punk failed to “investigate the veracity” of their own personal statements. Amann claimed the podcast caused him to suffer injury to his reputation as a medical professional and doctor.
* In April 2015, Punk and Cabana’s attorneys filed motions referring to the lawsuit as a “vindictive and deeply misguided attempt to impose a heavy cost at legally-protected speech.” Their filing also described Amann’s lawsuit as “seeking to punish a former wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., who expressed some critical opinions about WWE and his past experiences with that company.”
* The motion by Punk’s camp also noted the following: Amann’s claims against Punk were “legally deficient” because “the challenged statements do not refer to Amann by name and that the “complaint relies upon extrinsic ‘facts’ to try and connect Plaintiff (Amann) to the unidentified individuals and groups referenced in the statements about which the Plaintiff complains.”
* Punk and Cabana’s camp also say Amann’s claims of defamation against his reputation are also “legally deficient” because the statements “reasonably capable of being interpreted as referring to a person or persons other than the Plaintiff.”
* The filing by Punk and Cabana’s camp also notes on the claims of defamation: “When considered, as they must be, within the context of the entire interview in question – can be reasonably construed as reflecting Brooks’ intention to share his subjective views, interpretations and theories regarding his experiences, not to defame Plaintiff.”
* In additions, they are saying Amann’s claims “fail as a mater of law” because he is challenging Punk’s expressions of opinion under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The filing reads: “Brooks’ colorful, figurative, rhetorical and/or hyperbolic language, and his subjective views, interpretations and theories regarding the matters he was addressing are non-actionable opinions protected by the First Amendment.”
* Regarding Cabana, a motion filed noted that the Plaintiff fails to state valid causes of claims against Cabana.
* Cabana’s camp says the claims against him are non-actionable because they are based on opinions made by Cabana are Cabana responding to the material Punk was discussing.
* The statements in Amann’s allegations do not meet the standards to claim Cabana acted with actual malice.
* In addition, Cabana is claiming that his role as an interview for the Art of Wrestling podcast is is protected legally by “neutral reporting privilege.” His camp proclaims that Cabana “interviews public figures and addresses issues of public concern about professional wrestling.”
* The filing also noted that Amann is involved in” controversial” WWE Wellness Policy program, one of the subjects that Cabana and Punk were discussing on “Art of Wrestling.”
* On July 20, the motions were denied, and the presiding Judge reportedly ordered both sides to go into the Discovery phase. This phase could take up to 28 months. If the issue is not settled in that time, the case may go to trial sometime in late 2017.
* On August 28, attorneys for Punk and Cabana filed new motions to detail their defense.