A federal judge in Connecticut has slammed the attorney representing wrestlers in a lawsuit against the World Wrestling Entertainment.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant found Massachusetts-based solo practitioner Konstantine Kyros insisted on delaying the process and “repeatedly filed complaints rife with irrelevant, inflammatory and inaccurate information.”
In her 40-page Monday ruling, Bryant wrote that Kyros made “frivolous claims that 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.”
As she has in previous writings, Bryant blasted Kyros, the attorney for dozens of wrestlers, for how he conducted himself in the legal process. Bryant had previously dismissed five lawsuits filed by Kyros against the WWE. On Monday, she dismissed the final one: a lawsuit by more than 50 former wrestlers against the WWE. The lead plaintiff was Joe “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis.
Kyros told the Connecticut Law Tribune Tuesday he plans on appealing to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The court has been extremely forgiving of attorney Kyros and his appearing co-counsels’ highly questionable practices throughout this case, in an effort to give each wrestler a fair hearing,” Bryant wrote. “However, despite second, third, and fourth chances to submit pleadings … attorney Kyros has persisted in asserting pages and pages of frivolous claims and allegations for which he lacked any factual basis. He was warned that if he continued to do so this case would be dismissed, and he ignored this warning.”
In an unusual step, the judge ordered Kyros to send her ruling to each of the Laurinaitis plaintiffs as well as to any other future, current or former wrestlers he’s retained in his legal battle against the WWE.
Kyros maintains that the mega-entertainment company did not adequately protect its talent from concussions and head trauma.
But the judge did not find in his clients’ favor on claims that the sport causes concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
“The court is also unwilling to find that the diagnosis of one wrestler with CTE is sufficient to inbue WWE with actual awareness of a probable link between wrestling and CTE,” Bryant wrote. “Further, counsel lacks a good-faith basis for asserting that plaintiffs who retired after 2007 could not on their own, in the exercise of due diligence, uncover information timely about CTE or the risks that concussions or subconcussive blows could cause CTE.”
Kyros referred the Connecticut Law Tribune to his website, where he called Bryant’s ruling “very poorly reasoned.” He said the “decision will not stand” and said it “ignores basic facts about the history of CTE science, as well as the rudimentary concepts of employment and labor law and is mostly a personal attack on your advocate and not on you.”
Kyros continued: “The opinions expressed in the decision about my strong advocacy are inaccurate, bizarre, and unworthy of the court. The reasoning of the opinion itself is flimsy as the court finds, in ignorance of the facts, that there is no reasonable basis for the assertions, despite a substantial body of medical peer-reviewed literature going back almost 100 years. … I will continue to fight and advocate for wrestlers’ legal rights despite this tragic opinion that attempts to cast down my clients’ hopes for better lives.”
Jerry McDevitt of Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates, told the Connecticut Law Tribune Tuesday he had been texting Vince McMahon, chief executive officer of the WWE, after the ruling was announced. “He was at Monday Night Raw. He was obviously happy about the results and felt vindicated.”
McDevitt said he believes Kyros should be disbarred.
“He engaged in misconduct and he is an embarrassment to the profession,” McDevitt said of opposing counsel. “He just does not get it. Lawsuits are not about making up facts. And that is what he has done repeatedly.”
McDevitt added: “Judge Bryant showed great patience with this fellow and cautioned him repeatedly about his misconduct and warned him this [dismissal of cases] would happen. This is a well-earned and well-deserved victory.”
The judge’s ruling also calls on Kyros to pay the legal fees for McDevitt’s team for two of the motions related to the Laurinaitis case. McDevitt said he’d have a firm number on how much in legal fees is owed in a few weeks, adding, “It’s easily in the six figures.”
McDevitt declined to say whether he personally thought wresting contributed to CTE, but said, “The WWE has the best doctors, and they talk to the talent about the risk of head injuries and how to protect themselves. It’s a very professionally run organization.”
On McDevitt’s call for Kyros’ disbarment, Kyros responded, “If I was disbarred, Mr. McDevitt would have a lot less to do. As the leading advocate for professional wrestlers’ legal rights, his sentiments are no doubt the product of his frustration that WWE’s outrageous misconduct has been so publicly revealed through my fearless advocacy.”
Hartford-based Day Pitney assisted the WWE as counsel.