Typically, the trash talk takes place before the main event. But a dismissed suit accusing World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. of neglecting brain injuries has become an out-of-court “triple threat match,” to use the parlance of professional wrestling.
In reality, the case is turning into something more like a two-on-one against Kyros, who this week was ordered for at least the second time to pay the WWE’s legal fees by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant of the District of Connecticut. Bryant asked a magistrate judge Wednesday to review K&L Gates’ request of nearly $155,000 in legal fees it was awarded for work filing a motion for sanctions.
Despite that admonishment, Kyros has yet to let himself be counted out, promising to appeal Monday’s ruling tossing his 53-plaintiff-strong class action claim, as noted by affiliate publication the Connecticut Law Tribune.
In dismissing the suit, Bryant wrote that Kyros repeatedly made false allegations; brought claims that were time-barred; and failed to provide evidence that the WWE knew and hid the risk of brain injury from wrestlers like Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis was the named plaintiff in the sixth and last remaining concussion suit against the WWE.
“Attorney Kyros’ decision to assert frivolous claims has required the court to waste considerable judicial resources sifting through three unreasonably long complaints filed in the Laurinaitis action, with the vague hope that some claim, buried within a mountain of extraneous information, might have merit,” Bryant wrote.
Kyros said in an interview Wednesday that he had never been part of a case that involved such vitriol between the parties. But he said he would appeal the ruling.
“This is by far the most rough-and-tumble lawsuit that anyone I know has ever been involved in,” said Kyros, whose law firm has offices outside Boston, in South Florida and Athens, Greece. “It’s not a normal scenario.”
He was less reserved in a post on his website directed toward his clients. Kyros attacked the decision as “flimsy,” “very poorly reasoned” and “bizarre.” The ruling, Kyros wrote, “is mostly a personal attack on your advocate and not on you!”
McDevitt said in an interview that Kyros ought to be disbarred for what the Pittsburgh-based litigator called “unethical” behavior in the case.
“People like that who bring the judge into disrepute just because they lost the case and were sanctioned because of their misconduct, I don’t think they do have a place in the bar,” McDevitt said. “His comments about the judge are wildly inappropriate and regrettable and he shouldn’t be doing it. He called her reasoning flimsy. [He] accused her of ignoring facts that there were murders and suicides. She didn’t do any such thing. That’s just rotten to do.”
Bryant found that most of the 53 ex-wrestlers’ tort claims were time-barred, as Connecticut law allows three years from the incident to bring a tort claim. No wrestler in the suit claimed an injury inside the ropes of a WWE ring since 2011. Some of the wrestlers’ alleged injuries, like those of the late Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, occurred as early as or earlier than 1995.
Kyros said he would appeal that ruling, arguing that the time bar should not apply to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), because it is a “latent occupational disease.”
“That argument is pled in the NFL case, the NHL [case] that’s pending and the NCAA case that was settled,” Kyros said. “This is not a novel theory.”
In addition to failing to plead relevant facts, Bryant said Kyros’ suit made a series of errors as portions of it appeared to be copied from a National Football League concussion case, down to using NFL players’ names and referencing the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kyros said these were mere “typographical errors.”
But Bryant wrote that after the defendants pointed out those errors in a motion for sanctions, Kyros took more than 21 days to file an amended complaint. Kyros said the second amended complaint that was dismissed this week did not contain those errors referred to in the ruling.
“The edifice on which the narrative of my supposed incompetence is built is inaccurate,” he said.
Following Monday’s order, McDevitt said the WWE currently faces no concussion-related suits. He said the company began to educate its wrestlers on the seriousness of brain injuries following a 2007 incident when retired WWE star Chris Benoit murdered his family and committed suicide.
“We educate the talent about the importance of reporting head injuries and not getting back into the ring until it’s resolved,” McDevitt said. Kyros’ “allegations of fraud were ones that pissed us off frankly, because they had no basis in fact and never did have basis in fact.”
McDevitt has represented the WWE and its CEO, Vince McMahon, for roughly 30 years. In that time, McDevitt said he has litigated on the Stamford, Connecticut-based company’s behalf against some of the best lawyers in the world, ranging from partners at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to federal prosecutors in New York.
“This guy stands alone,” McDevitt said in regard to Kyros. “I’ve never seen anybody that engages in the kind of conduct that he does.”
As for Bryant, this is not the first time she has been a controversial figure. The American Bar Association initially graded her as “not qualified” for her appointment to the federal bench in 2006, filing a report with biting criticism of her competence as a state judge. That failing grade, however, was reversed in 2007 when President George W. Bush nominated her again for the federal bench.