Seven months ago, we reported that WWE's Senior Ringside Physician, Dr. Chris Amann, had sued both Phil "CM Punk" Brooks and Scott "Colt Cabana" Colton over allegedly defamatory remarks they had made when Punk had appeared on his friend's Art of Wrestling podcast last November. In particular, Punk claimed that "Doc" leant on him to work a European tour with a concussion, erroneously prescribed him so many Z-Paks that he once shit his pants on an episode of Smackdown, and misdiagnosed a MRSA infection as a fatty deposit, which he refused on multiple occasions to cut out.
The day after Amann's lawsuit was filed, WWE publicly addressed Punk's allegations and claimed that their own investigation into the matter had shown that he had not discussed his alleged baseball size growth on his back with anyone in the company, including Amann. They even posted a video with close up shots of Punk's back during his last WWE appearance in the 2014 Royal Rumble match which they suggested was clear evidence that no such growth existed at the time.
The latest news on the case, according to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com, is that Punk and Cabana's lawyers have filed an official response to the allegations made against them by Amann, after their initial motion to have the lawsuit dismissed was turned down by the presiding judge.
In the latest filing, Punk makes it crystal clear that he feels that Amman improperly colluded with WWE on the lawsuit as revenge for the public embarrassment his honest comments caused the company:
"Brooks is informed and believes that the Plaintiff collaborated, coordinated and conspired with the WWE in bad faith to prepare, bring and pursue this lawsuit in retaliation against Brooks and Colton for the embarrassment that the Podcast caused the WWE through and as a result of Brooks' candid and truthful discussion of various of his experiences as a WWE wrestler, despite the fact that the Plaintiff knows full well that the statements about which he complains are true and/or substantially true. Further, Books is informed and believes that the Plaintiff cooperated with the WWE in the preparation and improper release of the alleged results of a supposed investigation concerning Brooks' confidential and private medical information on the day after the Plaintiff filed this Complaint, which purported to support certain allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint and to dispute and contest certain statements made by Brooks in the course of the Podcast. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff cooperated and conspired with the WWE to prepare and coordinate the preparation of the supposed investigation report who's supposed results were released to the public and published widely very shortly after the Plaintiff filed his Complaint."
The filing goes on to argue that Amann's claims against Punk were "barred and precluded because the Plaintiff has engaged in misconduct and acted in bad faith with respect" to the defendant. In the most damning accusations against WWE, Punk claimed that Amann:
"Repeatedly placed the interests of the WWE over the medical interests of Brooks and other patients, and has prioritized the interests of the WWE over the health and safety of Brooks and other WWE wrestlers. Furthermore, Plaintiff, during his tenure with the WWE, has engaged in unprofessional, incompetent and/or dishonest conduct in furtherance of the WWE's entertainment and/or business interests that compromised and tarnished his reputation, professionalism and/or integrity."
Other arguments include that:
- Amann had violated his duty of patient confidentiality to Punk and had invaded Punk's right to privacy by improperly disclosing confidential information about Punk's health in the original filing of the lawsuit.
- The "allegedly false and defamatory statements are constitutionally protected expressions of opinion and are therefore non-actionable under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
- As the allegedly defamatory statements on the podcast only referred to "Doc", not Amann's name in full, they "are reasonably capable of being interpreted as referring to a person or persons other than the Plaintiff. None of the challenged statements refers to the Plaintiff."
- Amann would be considered to be a public figure, as he "has been willingly employed in a very public role as a doctor for or affiliated with WWE," which has included appearing on their television and podcasts, and having a public Twitter handle.
- Amann has "not alleged and cannot prove any actual or special damages, and Plaintiff has not suffered any damages as a result" of what was said about him on the Art of Wrestling podcast, as he is still employed by WWE.
Update: WWE issued the following statement to Cageside Seats:
"Phil Brooks' latest claim that WWE directed Dr. Amann to file a lawsuit against Brooks is categorically false. Dr. Amann made the decision to file suit in order to protect his professional reputation. WWE conducted its own investigation into this matter and found no evidence of wrongdoing by Dr. Amann, and thus continues to support Dr. Amann and the staff that runs our world-class medical program."