There are some new developments in WWE’s Dr. Chris Amann’s lawsuit against former WWE Superstars CM Punk (Phil Brooks) and Colt Cabana (Scott Colton) stemming from comments made on the infamous “Art of Wrestling” podcast episode from November 2014.
To recap, Amann’s claim is that Punk & Cabana made statements about him on the podcast that were untrue and defamatory by improperly insinuating he lacked integrity and competence as a medical doctor. Specifically, Amann claims that Punk sullied his reputation by claiming Amann misdiagnosed a lump on his back as simply a ‘fatty deposit’ and ignored his requests to remove it, a deposit that Punk went on to claim ended up turning into life-threatening MRSA.
Amann denies Punk asked him to treat or remove a lump or anything off of his back, denies he examined Punk nor did he prescribe him any antibiotics. Amann also says Cabana aided in falsely depicting him as a lazy and/or incompetent doctor. His position is that both men knowingly fabricated the false and disparaging statements about him and is seeking in excess of $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
In the closing months of 2015, the two sides were going back and forth addressing the plaintiff’s attempts to squash Punk and Cabana’s defense pleadings. The court had ruled that some of the defense’s claims were inadmissible, which led to Punk and Cabana’s defense responding to the lawsuit with amended responses on December 15th.
In this filing, Punk argued that his comments on the podcast were his opinion and therefore should fall under the First Amendment of the Constitution (Free Speech). Additionally, he argued that his statements were “substantially true” – doubling down on his claim that Amann neglected to drain the lump on his lower back Punk and failed to diagnose it as a “potential MRSA or staph infection.” This is the most assertive Punk has been during the course of the lawsuit in identifying Dr. Amann by name as the person who he alleges provided him with reckless medical care.
Punk also alleged that he suffered “severe head trauma” in the Royal Rumble match (Punk’s final WWE match), but “Plaintiff did not direct or encourage [Punk] to leave the ring” and that “Plaintiff had indicated [that Punk] had discretion as to whether to remain in the ring.”
Amann alleges in his lawsuit that his privacy was violated on the “Art of Wrestling” podcast, but in the 12/15 filing, Punk’s camp responded that Amann was a public figure as a result of his job with WWE (including appearances on TV, on WWE.com, etc.) and the statements made about him on the podcast are fair game as a result.
The defense is pushing for a jury trial to determine the fate of the lawsuit. The next hearing is scheduled for February 1st.
Credit to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com and our own David Bixenspan for assistance with the facts related to the December 15th filing.