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Vince McMahon and Triple H deposed in concussion lawsuit

Vince McMahon, Triple H, Dr. Joseph Maroon, Dr. Mark Lovell, Dr. Chris Amann, Bill DeMott and Chris Nowinski will all be deposed in the Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton concussion lawsuit, but Stephanie McMahon won't be.

Vince McMahon and Triple H: Both will be testifying about WWE's concussion policy very soon.
Vince McMahon and Triple H: Both will be testifying about WWE's concussion policy very soon.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It has been almost two months since WWE won several important rulings in the concussion litigation filed by six former WWE wrestlers, with the Haynes and McCullough et al. lawsuits being dismissed outright and the LoGrasso and Singleton lawsuit being partially dismissed. The remaining claim against the company is that they committed fraud by omission after the institution of their Wellness Policy by failing to disclose to LoGrasso, Singleton and their other wrestlers "information concerning a link between repeated head trauma and permanent degenerative neurological conditions as well as specialised knowledge concerning the possibility that its wrestlers could be exposed to a greater risk for such conditions."

The case has since entered discovery, which was a slow moving affair until the last couple of weeks when the plaintiffs deposed on short notice:

  • Vince McMahon (WWE Chairman & CEO),
  • Stephanie McMahon (Chief Brand Officer),
  • Paul "Triple H" Levesque (Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative),
  • Dr. Joseph Maroon (WWE Medical Director),
  • Dr. Mark Lovell (President of ImPACT),
  • Dr. Chris Amann (WWE Senior Ringside Physician),
  • Bill DeMott (WWE's Head Trainer from June 2012 to March 2015),
  • Chris Nowinski (Co-Founder and President of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, an organisation that has benefitted from WWE donations and Levesque is a current board member of).
A week ago, WWE filed an emergency motion for a protective order against these unilaterally-noticed depositions arguing that it amounted to harassment of some of their most senior executives:
"This barrage of unilaterally-scheduled depositions is a transparent attempt to prejudice WWE’s ability to properly prepare for these depositions including having counsel of WWE’s choice defend them. Plaintiffs are seeking depositions of WWE’s highest ranking executives, including its Chairman and CEO, Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events and Creative, and Chief Brand Officer, as well as third parties who Plaintiffs know have no information on any issues relevant under the Court’s discovery order and order on WWE’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs have no one to blame but themselves for causing their timing predicament and the resulting prejudice to WWE as they waited until just two and one-half weeks before the close of discovery to notice these depositions.

The Court has already found that Plaintiffs failed to establish good cause to extend the discovery period. The Court should also find that good cause exists to enter a protective order to prevent Plaintiffs’ attempt to prejudice, harass and unduly burden WWE with a host of depositions out of all proportion to the legitimate issues in dispute in this case."

It should be noted that WWE did not attempt to block all attempts at discovery as they had already agreed to produce a corporate representative for a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition scheduled on May 31st, 2016 before they were swamped with these additional requests.

However, Judge Vanessa Bryant denied WWE's motion for the following reason:

"ORDER denying 132 Motion for Protective Order. The Court does not direct discovery. Counsel are expected to civilly and professionally conduct discovery in a consultative manner as provided by Rules 26 and 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and within the deadlines set by the Court."

Since that ruling, WWE quickly arranged deposition dates for everyone except Stephanie McMahon, who they are refusing to produce "as "Plaintiffs have failed to identify any relevant testimony that Ms. McMahon would have on the narrow issues on which the Court has authorized discovery." It should be noted that Paul Levesque will now serve as WWE's corporate representative for the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition mentioned above and will answer both individual and company specific questions in his deposition.

Although I'm personally highly sceptical that the discovery process will find a smoking gun that will lead to WWE losing this case (Bryant's initial ruling went mostly in their favour and leaked excerpts from Singleton's deposition demonstrate that he didn't even realise that he was claiming fraud in his case against WWE), it should shine a light on WWE's Wellness Policy, in particular their handling of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. That would be a positive development, even if it only proves that WWE's actions matches their words on the concussion issue.

For more details on this story, I would recommend David Bixenspan's cover story entitled "WWE concussion lawsuit takes strange turn with deposition" in this week's Figure Four Weekly Newsletter.

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