Dr. Chris Amann, WWE’s senior ringside physician, may have lost more than a court case when a jury found for CM Punk and Colt Cabana in the defamation suit he brought against the pair for their 2014 podcast discussing Punk’s time in WWE.
During the trial, Amann may succeeded in raising some doubt about Punk’s version of events, even if it wasn’t enough to win him a decision. But if his goal was to restore his repuation? Evidence definitely pointed to the doctor discussing patient information via text, violating HIPAA privacy regulations, and poor record-keeping, incuding dispensing medication without documentation. As if those missteps weren’t damaging enough, reporting from David Bixenspan for Deadspin points to a serious ethical violation which Amann himself confirmed in pre-trial depositions. And WWE doesn’t seem to be happy about it.
Defense questioning during depositions revealed Amann had a romantic and sexual relationship with former WWE Superstar Jillian Hall. The timeline for that relationship, which the doctor confirmed, points to it going on while Hall was assigned to Raw and Amann was the lone doctor for the brand - meaning she was technically his patient.
Hall confirmed the relationship to Deadspin, which was also discussed in two other depositions from Cliff Compton and Punk’s sister Chaleen Rumpf. Though not documented as extensively, the defense also questioned Amann about another romance he had with an independent wrestler who tried out for WWE twice.
As Bixenspan was told by NYU medical ethics professor Arthur Caplan, these types of relationships with patients are “a huge ethics no-no”. Sex and romance distort objectivity, meaning a patient could tell a doctor what they think they want to hear rather than being honest about their condition, or doctors could be more willing to prescribe medications to please the patient. A doctor is also an authority figure, meaning their are tricky power dynamics involved. “All of the codes of ethics say ‘Don’t do it’”, Caplan said.
None of this was introduced at trial as Amann’s legal team filed motions to exclude it. Somewhat ironically, those motions are what led Bixenspan to the depositions, which were not sealed.
Perhaps worst of all for Amann, whose WWE contract Wrestling Observer says expires in October of this year, is that his bosses say they didn’t know about his relationship with Hall. And when Deadspin asked them for comment, they weren’t happy:
“We were not aware of this. We are investigating the matter and will determine if any action is warranted.”
Caplan said that even though Amann’s WWE bosses may not have been medical professionals, if they knew about his personal relationship with Hall, they would have had an ethical responsibility to end the doctor/patient relationship - something they could have done at the time by switching one or the other to the SmackDown brand.
One thing all of this does, at least for this writer, is call into question the notion WWE secretly backed Amann’s lawsuit against Punk and Cabana. Vince McMahon’s legal team is adept at not only winning cases, but keeping them from getting far enough to where embarrassing information such as this comes to light.
That’s just supposition, however. It doesn’t require a lot of guesswork to think this whole thing didn’t work out the way Amann planned, though.
Check out David Bixenspan’s entire story on Deadspin here.