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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT,
INC.,
Plaintiff,
Case No.

vs.
ROBERT WINDHAM, THOMAS
BILLINGTON, JAMES WARE, OREAL
PERRAS, and VARIOUS JOHN DOE’S
Defendants.

COMPLAINT
Plaintiff World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (“WWE”) files this Complaint against
Defendants Robert Windham, Thomas Billington, James Ware, Oreal Perras and various John
Doe’s (collectively “Defendants”), averring as follows:
NATURE OF THE ACTION
1.

By this action, WWE seeks a declaration that claims relating to alleged traumatic

brain injuries and/or other tort claims Defendants have threatened against WWE are time-barred
by the applicable statutes of limitations/statutes of repose under Connecticut law.
2.

WWE is an integrated media and entertainment company featuring its unique

brand of wrestling-based sports entertainment programming. WWE develops multi-faceted
storylines centered around the athletic and entertainment skills and appeal of its talent, and
presents that content via the WWE network, broadcast and cable television, online and live
events.
3.

WWE has maintained its corporate headquarters in Connecticut since in or around

the early-1980s. Since that time, Connecticut has been and remains the nerve center of WWE’s
global operations. All essential corporate functions of WWE — for example, executive

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management, marketing, promotion, television production, the WWE Network, video library,
accounting, legal, and talent relations — operate out of WWE’s Connecticut facilities and all
significant corporate decisions of WWE are made in Connecticut. Historically, WWE talent
have come from all over the world. For uniformity and predictability, WWE’s contracts with its
talent, known as booking contracts, typically have provided since at least in or around the early1980s that they are governed by Connecticut law and since at least in or around 1991 that any
disputes arising out of or related to such contracts must be litigated exclusively in Connecticut.
4.

Connecticut has a strong public policy against the litigation of stale and fraudulent

tort claims, which is reflected in strict statutes of repose that bar tort claims if not brought within
three years of the act or omissions complained of, even if a cause of action has not accrued by
that time. C.G.S. § 52-577 and §52-584 both contain repose provisions against untimely tort
claims.
5.

Three of the Defendants are former-professional wrestlers who long ago

performed for WWE. Specifically, Defendant Windham last performed for WWE in or around
1986; Defendant Billington last performed for WWE in or around 1988; Defendant Ware last
performed for WWE in or around 1999. Defendant Perras last performed for an entity known as
Capitol Wrestling Corporation.
6.

The specifically named Defendants did not complain to WWE regarding any

alleged injuries supposedly caused by WWE in the decades since they last performed. On June
2, 2015, the named Defendants, through an attorney named Konstantine W. Kyros (“Kyros”),
out-of-the-blue sent WWE identical letters claiming for the first time that they “were allegedly
injured as a result of WWE’s negligent and fraudulent conduct” (the “Notice Letters,” Exs. AD).

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7.

John Doe Defendants are former performers who have not performed for WWE

within three years and who have signed, or do sign, retainer agreements with Konstantine Kyros,
or any other attorney working in concert with Kyros, to assert tort claims against WWE.
8.

Last year, Kyros began an internet solicitation scheme attempting to recruit

persons to serve as plaintiffs in suits against WWE patterned after the cases lodged against the
National Football League (“NFL”) for alleged traumatic brain injuries (“TBIs”), including
specifically Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”).
9.

Kyros has since filed or caused to be filed five separate lawsuits in courts across

the country against WWE, including three putative class actions relating to TBIs supposedly
sustained by former-WWE performers. The first was filed on October 23, 2014 in federal court
in Oregon styled as William Albert Haynes, III, individually and on behalf of all others similarly
situated, v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., 3:14-cv-01689-ST (D. Or.) (the “Haynes Suit”).
By Opinion and Order of the Honorable Janice M. Stewart dated June 25, 2015, the Haynes suit
was transferred to this Court. Second, Kyros filed the case styled Evan Singleton and Vito
LoGrasso v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., No. 5:15-cv-00223 (D. Conn.) (the “Singleton
Suit”) as a purported class action on January 16, 2015 in federal court in Pennsylvania. By order
of the federal court in Pennsylvania on March 23, 2015, the Singleton suit was transferred to this
Court. Third, he brought Cassandra Frazier, individually and as next of kin to her deceased
husband, Nelson Lee Frazier, Jr., and as personal representative of the Estate of Nelson Lee
Frazier, Jr., deceased, v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-02198 (W.D. Tenn.)
(the “Frazier Suit”) on February 18, 2015. Fourth, to avoid the jurisdiction of the federal court in
Connecticut, on information and belief, he caused the case styled Russ McCullough a/k/a “Big
Russ McCullough,” Ryan Sakoda, and Matthew R. Wiese a/k/a “Luther Reigns,” individually,

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and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., No. 2:15cv-02662-AB-JEM (C.D. Cal) (the “McCullough Suit”) to be filed in federal court in California
on April 9, 2015. Fifth, on June 26, 2015, one day after the federal court in Oregon issued an
order finding that Kyros had engaged in forum shopping and transferred the Haynes Suit to this
Court, Kyros filed yet another suit against WWE in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Texas on behalf of the girlfriend of a former performer, Matthew Osborne,
who died in June of 2013. That suit is styled Michelle James, as mother and next friend of
Matthew Osborne, a minor child and Teagan Osborne, a minor child, No. 3:15-CV-02146-L in
the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (the “James Suit”).
10.

These lawsuits, in reality, are part of an ongoing scheme by Kyros to troll for and

recruit new plaintiffs to file additional strike lawsuits against WWE in multiple jurisdictions to
vexatiously increase the cost of defending stale and meritless lawsuits and to avoid the
jurisdiction of this Court and the application of Connecticut law to stale and meritless claims.
11.

Emblematic of such a dubious purpose, each of the lawsuits to date assert patently

time-barred claims based on false, salacious and irrelevant allegations, which Kyros repeats in
each case despite knowing that he is making false allegations.
12.

The complaints in each of the lawsuits echo the same theme alleged against the

NFL even though the allegations do not fit when made against WWE. Specifically, each suit
claims that concussive and sub-concussive blows cause a neuro-degenerative disease called
chronic traumatic encephalopathy (“CTE”); that the plaintiffs routinely received concussive and
sub-concussive blows; that there are certain specific symptoms associated with CTE; that
medical and scientific research has existed in the public domain regarding such matters for some

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time; and that WWE somehow concealed and/or failed to disclose such publicly-available
information published by third parties to plaintiffs.
13.

Additionally, Kyros filed the lawsuits in five different jurisdictions around the

country in an effort to avoid the statutes of limitations/statutes of repose applicable under
Connecticut law, including four such cases where the plaintiffs had agreed to mandatory forum
selection clauses mandating that such suits be brought in Connecticut.
14.

By the June 2, 2015 letters, Kyros has threatened WWE with similar claims on

behalf of the specifically named Defendants. In light of the pending lawsuits Kyros has filed or
caused to be filed against WWE, his blatant and now adjudicated forum shopping, and his efforts
to avoid the jurisdiction of Connecticut, an actual dispute or controversy exists between WWE
and Defendants with respect to whether the TBI-related and/or other tort claims threatened by
Kyros in the June 2, 2015 letters are time-barred.
THE PARTIES
15.

Plaintiff WWE is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business at

1241 East Main Street, Stamford, Connecticut 06902. WWE is an integrated media and
entertainment company principally engaged in the development, promotion, and marketing of
television programming and live arena events, and the licensing and sale of branded consumer
products.
16.

Defendant Windham is an individual who resides in Groveland, Florida.

Defendant Windham performed for WWE from in or around 1985 through in or around February
1987 under the name “Black Jack Mulligan.”

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17.

Defendant Billington is an individual who resides in Cheshire, England.

Defendant Billington performed for WWE from in or around 1984 through in or around
November 1988 under the name “Dynamite Kid.”
18.

Defendant Ware is an individual who resides in Collierville, Tennessee.

Defendant Ware performed for WWE from in or around 1986 through in or around 1994, with a
short-lived return in 1999.
19.

Defendant Perras is an individual who resides in Winterville, North Carolina.

Defendant Perras performed for Capitol Wrestling Corp. decades ago.
20.

Defendant John Does are former performers of WWE who have not performed for

WWE within the past three years and who have signed, or do sign, retainer agreements with
Kyros, or any attorney working in concert with him to assert tort claims against WWE. On
information and belief, Kyros and certain of the former performers he has enlisted in the effort
continue to try to recruit other former performers to sue WWE in the hope it will maximize their
ability to obtain monies from WWE to settle all such claims instead of incurring substantial
defense costs litigating stale and fraudulent claims in multiple jurisdictions around the country.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
21.

This Court has diversity jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action pursuant

to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 in that the matter in controversy exceeds the sum of $75,000, exclusive of
interest and costs, and is between citizens of different States.
22.

This Court has personal jurisdiction over each of the Defendants in that, inter

alia, (i) Windham, Billington and Ware entered into contracts with WWE, formerly known as
Titan Sports, Inc., whose principal place of business was in the State of Connecticut, with respect
to Defendants’ professional wrestling services; (ii) the contracts Windham, Billington and Ware

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entered into with WWE provided that they were to be governed by the laws of the State of
Connecticut applicable to contracts entirely made and performed therein; (iii) the relationship of
Windham, Billington and Ware with WWE was centered in the State of Connecticut; and (iv)
Kyros, on behalf of the specifically named Defendants, sent the Notice Letters to WWE
threatening tort claims to WWE’s corporate headquarters in the State of Connecticut which
precipitated the filing of this lawsuit.
23.

Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 in that, inter alia, a substantial part of the

events giving rise to the claims asserted herein occurred in this District and/or Defendants are
subject to the Court’s personal jurisdiction on the claims herein.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Kyros’ Improper Solicitation
24.

At least as early as June 2014, Kyros began an Internet marketing scheme to

recruit clients to be plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against WWE which he hoped would
replicate the result of the traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) class action cases against the National
Football League (“NFL”).
25.

Among other things, Kyros’ website stated: “Our law firm wants to speak to

former/retired WWF/WWE wrestlers interested in joining lawsuits being brought against WWE .
. . . Our law firm is bringing lawsuits against the WWE on behalf of former wrestlers and their
families.” This statement was false at the time it was made. No lawsuit, much less multiple
lawsuits, had been brought against WWE at the time these statements were made.
26.

Kyros fostered a sense of urgency to the filing of lawsuits against WWE by

stating “You have a limited window of time to act as these lawsuits are happening now. Do not
wait until it is too late.” This statement again was false, as no lawsuit was “happening” at that

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time. Moreover, the stale claims by former-wrestlers who had not wrestled for WWE in decades,
like Defendants, already were time-barred.
27.

Kyros further falsely advertised on his website that there was a “WWE

Concussions Lawsuit Claims Center.” Once more, this statement was false as there was not then,
and is not now, any such thing.
Bad Faith Filing of the Haynes Suit
28.

Following his solicitation efforts, Kyros first filed the Haynes Suit in October

2014. Haynes is a self-admitted drug addict for the last 30 years who admittedly worked as a
“drug mule” illegally transporting drugs. Since agreeing to be a plaintiff, Haynes, with Kyros’
knowledge and approval, has attempted to recruit other former performers with promises that
there is money to be made by suing WWE, and that they can assist in putting WWE out of
business by joining into litigation.
29.

Haynes performed for WWE between 1986 and 1988. Oregon’s statute of repose

prohibits suits filed more than ten years after the tortious “act or omission complained of,” the
same concept set forth in Connecticut’s repose statutes. Kyros completely ignored Oregon’s
statute of repose in filing the suit because the true purpose was publicity, not the pursuit of
legitimate, timely claims.
30.

The Haynes Suit, itself, was part of Kyros’ recruitment scheme as he admittedly

sought to use the filing of the lawsuit to attract additional plaintiffs to sue WWE. In a media
interview he gave after the Haynes Suit was filed, Kyros admitted that he decided to file the
Haynes Suit because he believed Haynes “would be a good candidate to get this suit [against
WWE] rolling” and that it was “sort of our opening case.” In a separate interview on NPR,

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another attorney affiliated with Kyros expressed the hope that Haynes’ lawsuit would “open[] the
floodgates” of litigation against WWE.
31.

Additionally, Kyros set up a Google advertising campaign in connection with the

filing of the Haynes Suit. When the search terms “WWE concussion lawsuit” or “billy jack
haynes” are typed in Google, the search result calls up an advertisement linking the person doing
the search to Kyros’ website.
32.

In furtherance of Kyros’ recruitment scheme and to maximize publicity, the

Haynes Suit was chock full of scandalous, false and impertinent allegations that had no
semblance of relevance to Haynes’ TBI-related claims, all of which were time barred no later
than 1998. Such allegations were asserted solely to garner media attention, and as a result
potential new clients.
33.

For example, TMZ, a celebrity news website, ran a story with the headline “Ex-

WWE Wrestler Sues — I GOT HEPATITIS C During Bloody Wrestling Match” which squarely
focused on one particular scandalous and impertinent allegation of the complaint. UPROXX and
PerezHilton.com, two widely-followed pop culture websites, ran similar stories that focused on
the scandalous and impertinent allegations about Hepatitis C and WWE supposedly encouraging
steroid and cocaine use, none of which were pertinent to the stale and fraudulent brain injury
claims of Haynes. Specifically, the UPROXX headline was “Billy Jack Haynes Is Suing WWE
For Allegedly Giving Him Hep C” and the story quoted the wholly irrelevant, salacious, and
false allegation that WWE supposedly “went out of its way to put wrestlers in danger by
encouraging steroid and cocaine use.” Likewise, PerezHilton.com reported that “Wrestler Billy
Jack Haynes Is Suing The WWE After He Contracted Hepatitis C!” and that “Billy is alleging

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that Vince McMahon’s company put wrestlers in danger by hiding important medical
information and encouraging steroid and cocaine use.”
34.

As would become a pattern, Kyros liberally charged WWE with fraud without

complying with the operative rules requiring such charges to be pled with particularity so as to
prevent damage to reputation by unsubstantiated fraud charges. Additionally, Kyros fabricated
charges that WWE had concealed the risks of concussions and/or assumed certain duties by the
deliberate misrepresentation of testimony and alleged statements. Those fabricated allegations
have been repeated as a staple of every subsequent lawsuit.
35.

WWE advised Kyros of its intention to move for sanctions regarding such

pleading violations and to move to dismiss the lawsuit. Kyros then requested time to file an
amended complaint in order to drop the improper allegations and avoid sanctions. The amended
complaint, when filed, did nothing to cure the obvious and insurmountable staleness of Haynes’
claims under Oregon’s ten-year statute of repose. Furthermore, Kyros amended the complaint
only after the scandalous allegations had garnered significant media attention and attracted more
potential plaintiffs.
36.

Kyros’ plan to incite media attention and attract better plaintiffs through the filing

of the Haynes Suit worked to some degree, as less than three months after filing the Haynes Suit,
Kyros filed the Singleton Suit on behalf of plaintiffs who, unlike Haynes, had at least wrestled
for WWE in this century.
37.

On June 25, 2015, by Opinion and Order of the Honorable Janice Stewart, the

Haynes Suit was transferred to this Court by a decision which found, among other things, that
Kyros’ multi-jurisdictional filings constituted forum shopping and that Oregon was chosen as
one state on “a hit-list” of potential venues. A copy of Judge Stewart’s Opinion and Order is

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attached hereto as Exh. E. Despite this ruling, the next day Kyros continued his forum shopping
and pattern of vexatious litigation by filing the James case in federal court in Dallas.
Bad Faith Filing of the Singleton Suit
38.

In January 2015, Kyros filed the Singleton Suit in the U.S. District Court for the

Eastern District of Pennsylvania in violation of mandatory forum selection clauses in the two
plaintiffs’ contracts with WWE that required the filing of any such lawsuits exclusively in this
Court. The Singleton Suit initially was filed as a putative class action and was identical in all
material respects to the Haynes putative class action in federal court in Oregon.
39.

The complaint filed by Kyros in the Singleton Suit again contained multiple

fraudulent claims on behalf of both plaintiffs Singleton and LoGrasso, including, but not limited
to (a) falsely alleging that WWE “discouraged [Singleton] from seeking additional, appropriate
medical help, for example from a neurologist” following an alleged concussion when, in fact,
WWE had arranged for Singleton to be treated by at least six different physicians including two
neurologists; (b) falsely alleging that WWE cleared Singleton to continue wrestling after
sustaining a concussion without adequate rest time when, in fact, WWE never medically cleared
Singleton to wrestle after his alleged concussion despite clearance from an independent
neurologist who found nothing wrong with Singleton and Singleton never again participated in a
wrestling match; and (c) falsely alleging that LoGrasso had residual injuries as a result of TBIs
from his brief stint with WWE without any medical diagnosis of such injuries before filing suit.
40.

After WWE’s counsel notified Kyros that both Singleton and LoGrasso had

signed forum selection clauses, Kyros refused to withdraw the improperly-filed lawsuit and refile
it in Connecticut. WWE then filed a motion to enforce the forum selection clauses and to
transfer venue to this Court. Kyros did not oppose the motion to transfer, and neither he nor any

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of the cadre of lawyers representing plaintiffs offered any justification for not honoring the
forum selection clauses. The order transferring the case to this Court found that plaintiffs
“agree[d] the District of Connecticut is an appropriate forum.” Upon being transferred to this
Court, the case was assigned to the Honorable Vanessa L. Bryant.
41.

WWE also brought the existence of false allegations in the Singleton Suit to

Kyros’ attention on January 23, 2015. He refused to correct those falsities for months,
necessitating the expense of trying to prepare a motion to dismiss a complaint with false
allegations in it. Instead, on April 28, 2015, ten days before WWE’s response to the complaint
was due — and after WWE had incurred considerable expense to draft a motion to dismiss the
complaint — he announced that the plaintiffs once again intended to file an amended complaint.
42.

As with the Haynes Suit, the amended complaint abandoned some of the specific

false allegations that WWE had brought to Kyros’ attention but then asserted other fraudulent
claims. In particular, the amended complaint (a) falsely alleged that WWE’s conduct
“contributed to [plaintiffs’] untimely death” when, in fact, both Singleton and LoGrasso are still
alive; and (b) falsely alleged that “[i]t was not until more than 10 months later that [Singleton]
was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, including an intracranial hemorrhage.” In fact, a
MRI taken after Singleton’s alleged injury expressly noted to the contrary: “[n]o intracranial
mass lesion, shift of the midline structures or intracranial hemorrhage is identified.”
43.

Even after being specifically advised of the falsity of the allegation that Singleton

had an intracranial hemorrhage and the specific medical findings that he did not have such an
injury, Kyros has continued to assert as fact that Singleton had such an injury.
44.

In his amended complaint, Kyros also abandoned the class-based allegations from

the case. The abandonment of the class-based allegations was tactical gamesmanship to

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circumvent the District of Connecticut’s jurisdiction in an attempt to pursue such a class action
in another forum lacking a strict repose statute. To pursue that goal of circumventing this
Court’s jurisdiction, on information and belief Kyros caused the virtually-identical McCullough
Suit to be filed as a purported class action in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of
California, and affirmatively concealed, and continues to conceal, his involvement in that case.
45.

Additionally, the claims of plaintiff LoGrasso are time-barred on their face as he

last wrestled for WWE in 2007 such that the applicable statutes of limitations/statutes of repose
had expired years before the filing of the case in January 2015.
46.

As a result of these and other pleading defects in the amended complaint, in a

scheduling conference held on June 8, 2015, Judge Bryant ordered Kyros to file a second
amended complaint compliant with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure within one week, and
issued other specific directions to be followed by Kyros.
47.

During the dialogue between the Court and Kyros, he attempted to dismiss the

false allegation that plaintiffs in the Singleton Suit were deceased as “scrivener error” he was not
aware of despite the obligation imposed on him and all attorneys to have a good faith basis for
allegations made in a federal lawsuit.
48.

After stating that the false death allegations were scrivener error, Mr. Kyros stated

“But my — my client Nelson Frazier’s dead at the age of 43,” referring to a former performer
who died of a heart attack six years after last performing for WWE. The Frazier Suit is more
fully described herein.
49.

After Kyros referenced the Frazier Suit, the Court stated:

“Does the Complaint reference Mr. Frazier? Are you going to reference every
wrestler that’s dead in your Complaint? I don’t – I don’t follow that. You really
need to read and get a better grip on the pleading standard in the next week and
file an amended complaint.”
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50.

Less than three weeks after this Court made the above quoted remarks and issued

the instructions to Kyros, he again acted to circumvent this Court’s jurisdiction and instructions
by filing the James Suit in federal court in Texas described herein. That suit was filed the day
after the federal court in Oregon found that Kyros had been forum shopping and that the
presence of mandatory forum selection clauses in wrestler’s contracts justified transferring that
case to this Court. As described herein, the deceased former performer in that case — Matthew
Osborne — agreed to the same forum selection clause as had LoGrasso and Singleton.
51.

Kyros not only ignored the decision of the Oregon federal court that he had been

engaged in forum shopping and the mandatory forum selection clause in Osborne’s contract, he
did exactly what this Court questioned at the hearing on June 8, 2015 — specifically he listed
every dead wrestler and included photographs of them in yet another federal pleading replete
with falsehoods.
Bad Faith Filing of the Frazier Suit
52.

In February 2015, Kyros caused the Frazier Suit to be filed in state court in

Tennessee in violation of the mandatory forum selection clauses in three different contracts
between Frazier and WWE requiring the assertion of any such claims in this Court. This lawsuit
was filed despite the fact that Frazier was a member of the putative class defined by Kyros in
both the Haynes Suit and Singleton Suit.
53.

Frazier was a morbidly obese man who died of a heart attack on February 18,

2014 — many years after he last performed for WWE. At no time prior to his death did Frazier
ever make a claim against WWE for alleged TBI’s. After his death, he was cremated and no
autopsy was performed.

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54.

CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem by an autopsy of the brain involving

preparation of tissue slides using specialized staining techniques. In every complaint filed to
date, Kyros has admitted that CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem.
55.

Following Frazier’s death, his widow contacted WWE, claimed she was destitute,

and asked for money to avoid being evicted. To help her financially, WWE advanced her
royalties that would otherwise become due to the estate, if at all, in the future. Thereafter, she
broadly praised WWE in social media outlets.
56.

Being destitute, Frazier’s widow was receptive to Kyros’ pitch to permit her late

husband’s death to be used as a vehicle to launch TBI lawsuits against WWE.
57.

Substantively, the Frazier Suit alleges that Frazier has CTE and that CTE

somehow contributed to his death from a heart attack. These claims are demonstrably false for at
least two reasons. First, as Kyros knows, it is not possible to prove that Frazier had CTE because
it can only be diagnosed by a post-mortem examination of the brain. Frazier was cremated
without any pathological examination of his brain having been performed. Second, there is no
medically-plausible causal connection between CTE and a morbidly obese man with diabetes
and hypertension passing away after a heart attack in the shower.
58.

In addition to its lack of substantive merit, the complaint filed in the Frazier Suit

again is replete with scandalous and impertinent allegations designed solely for media attention,
not legal merit. For example, just as he did recently in the Osborne Suit, the complaint in the
Frazier Suit contains color photographs and allegations about the alleged cause and manner of
death of other former wrestlers. The cause and manner of death of persons no longer affiliated
with WWE have nothing to do with whether Frazier’s estate has a viable and timely tort claim

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against WWE after he passed away from a heart attack in the shower years after he last
performed for WWE.
59.

Further, the complaint contains 289 paragraphs identifying every match in which

Frazier performed for WWE, extracted from an internet database, followed by the identical
boilerplate allegation for each match that “[u]pon information and belief he sustained head and
other long-term injuries by participating in this event.” There is no credible basis to assert that
Frazier sustained head injuries or other long-term injuries in each and every one of these 289
matches.
60.

Because Kyros refused to transfer the case to this Court, WWE moved to enforce

the forum selection clauses and transfer the case to this Court.
61.

After filing the Haynes, Singleton and Frazier Suits, Kyros personally appeared

on the March 27, 2015 podcast of a program called “The Wrestling Show” in which he peddled
hysteria, falsely claiming “there is an epidemic in the community . . . there is a health crisis in
retired wrestlers” that he attributed to WWE and pushed his marketing efforts by stating “I can
win a case against WWE if people come forward . . . if every wrestler who believes that they’d
been harmed by WWE right now decided to file a lawsuit against WWE, this would surely
decide, I think an outcome.”
62.

Prior to Kyros’ internet marketing scheme, no former performer had claimed to be

having a health crisis on account of alleged traumatic brain injuries, as Kyros stated on
March 27, 2015. No such lawsuits had been threatened or filed on behalf of a former performer.
Singleton was in the midst of pursuing a Workmen’s Compensation claim which he abandoned
after being induced to bring suit by Kyros.

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Bad Faith Filing of the McCullough Suit
63.

The McCullough Suit was filed as a putative class action on April 9, 2015 on

behalf of three former performers who last performed in 2001, 2004 and 2005 respectively. At
the time it was filed, the McCullough Suit was entirely duplicative of the Singleton Suit and the
Haynes Suit. The McCullough Suit was filed in the Central District of California in violation of
mandatory forum selection clauses in the three plaintiffs’ contracts with WWE that require the
assertion of any such claims in this Court. Despite agreeing to transfer the Singleton Suit to
Connecticut after WWE pointed out the existence of the forum selection clauses, Kyros, through
California counsel he obtained to be on the Complaint, refused to transfer the case to Connecticut
despite the fact all three plaintiffs in the California case had also agreed to the same or similar
clause. As a result, WWE was put to the expense of once again having to move to enforce the
forum selection clauses and transfer the McCullough Suit to this Court.
64.

The McCullough Suit was filed in the Central District of California to avoid the

Connecticut statutes of limitations and statutes of repose that would apply if the case was filed in
this Court as required by the forum selection clauses to which the plaintiffs are subject.
65.

On information and belief, Kyros represents the plaintiffs in the McCullough Suit

but did not sign the complaint so as to conceal his involvement in the attempt to circumvent this
Court’s jurisdiction, which he had previously agreed to be appropriate in cases where former
performers had signed forum selection clauses. Instead, he retained local California counsel to
sign the pleadings in order to maximize their ability to distance themselves from Kyros’ previous
agreement to transfer cases to this Court where performers had agreed to identical forum
selection clauses. WWE’s counsel has repeatedly requested that Kyros and the plaintiffs’

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California counsel confirm or deny Kyros’ involvement in the McCullough Suit and
representation of those plaintiffs, but they have refused to do either.
66.

In briefings to the federal court in California, WWE pointed out Kyros’ role in the

attempts to circumvent this Court’s jurisdiction. In their response, the plaintiffs did not dispute
his role or comment in any way in furtherance of the scheme to conceal and deceive the federal
court in California.
67.

On information and belief, the decision to abandon the class-based allegations in

the Singleton Suit was done to try to avoid arguments that the Singleton and McCullough Suits
are duplicative in a further effort to resist the transfer of the McCullough Suit to this Court in
circumvention of its jurisdiction.
68.

Despite being admonished for not pleading in accordance with the rules of court,

and despite previously making the false allegation that one of his clients had died as a result of
alleged torts by WWE in the Singleton case, when in fact that client was alive, on information
and belief, Kyros has continued the pattern of making similar false allegations in the
McCullough case.
69.

On information and belief, on June 22, 2014, while continuing to conceal his role

in the case, Kyros caused the California lawyers he retained to oppose WWE’s motion to transfer
venue back to Connecticut. In that opposition, it was once again falsely alleged that “WWE
failed to disclose the facts and dangers to plaintiffs and caused them irreparable harm and
ultimately an untimely death.” All three plaintiffs in that case are alive, not dead, yet the pattern
of making such false allegations continue. Federal pleadings filed by and/or controlled by Kyros
have now falsely alleged that either four or five plaintiffs he represents are dead due to torts he
accuses WWE of committing, yet all are alive.

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70.

Additionally, while attempting to argue that the three plaintiffs in the California

case had no opportunity to wrestle elsewhere, the false statement was made in the opposition to
transfer that “the WWE is, on information and belief, the only professional wrestling company in
the country.” Kyros knows this allegation is false. His clients actually performed for other
professional wrestling companies in America, and at least two other professional wrestling
organizations are on television every week — TNA and Ring of Honor.
71.

The three plaintiffs in the McCullough Suit, Russ McCullough, Ryan Sakoda, and

Matt Wiese, last wrestled for WWE in 2001, 2004, and 2005, respectively. Accordingly, their
claims each are time-barred on their face as the applicable Connecticut statutes of
limitations/statutes of repose expired years before the filing of the case in April 2015.
Kyros’ June 2, 2015 Letters on Behalf of the Specifically Named Defendants
72.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing pending lawsuits, on June 2, 2015, Kyros

sent WWE identical “Notice of Representation” letters on behalf of Defendants Windham,
Billington, Ware, and Perras directly to WWE’s corporate headquarters in Stamford,
Connecticut.
73.

The letters state that “the undersigned have been retained by [Defendants

Windham, Billington, Ware, and Perras], a former WWE wrestler . . . who was allegedly injured
as a result of WWE’s negligent and fraudulent conduct.” The letters then go on to state that “in
light of the possible litigation involving this matter,” WWE purportedly should refrain from
communicating directly with these Defendants and should preserve relevant data. Thus, these
Defendants admit that an actual dispute or controversy exists between them and WWE with
respect to WWE’s supposedly negligent and fraudulent conduct, and that they “have reasonable
anticipation of litigation.”

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74.

The specifically named Defendants had not complained to WWE regarding any

alleged injuries in the decades since they last performed until the June 2, 2015 letters.
75.

The June 2, 2015 letters demand that WWE take action to preserve records which

appear to have some relation to the TBI-related cases Kyros has filed against WWE.
76.

The letters also request that WWE preserve records which have no apparent

relevance to the TBI-related cases, such as “royalties, accountings licenses, deals, toys, action
figures, video games, DVDs [and] streaming videos on the WWE network.” Additionally, the
letters demand that “all physical items in the image and likeness of the [specifically named
Defendants] should be preserved and have a litigation hold established on them.”
The Events Since Receipt of the June 2, 2015 Letters
77.

A few weeks after Kyros sent these letters on behalf of the four named

defendants, the federal court in the Haynes Suit specifically found that Kyros had been involved
in forum shopping. The Oregon federal court did so while noting that WWE had been unable to
get Kyros to confirm his involvement in the McCullough Suit in California. At the same time,
the Court noted that the pleadings in the McCullough Suit had identical allegations and
photographs as did the version of the complaint in the Haynes Suit, and concluded it was
evidence of forum shopping.
78.

In its order of June 25, 2015, the Oregon federal court also noted that many of the

putative class members are subject to mandatory forum selection clauses requiring disputes to be
resolved in this Court. Exh. E, p. 7. The Court then ordered the Haynes Suit transferred to this
Court, and left it to this Court to rule on the fully briefed motion to dismiss the Haynes Suit.
79.

Undeterred by the decision of the Oregon court finding that he had been forum

shopping, and which recognized the import of mandatory forum selection clauses, or this Court’s

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directive that he read and comply with proper pleading standards, Kyros filed the James Suit the
next day, June 26, 2015.
80.

The James Suit opens with a false factual premise, and then reiterates the same

boilerplate false allegations as Kyros has made in every TBI complaint against WWE to date.
The opening false premise is that Matt Osborne “wrestled for WWE beginning in 1985 and
ending in 2007.” Thereafter, Kyros alleged that “For decades spanning back to the 1920s WWE
has known . . . that wrestlers have been subjected to extremely dangerous conditions and blows
at its direction.”
81.

WWE did not even exist in the 1920s, and Matt Osborne did not perform for

WWE from 1985 to 2007, or for twenty years, as is also falsely alleged by Kyros in the
Complaint he filed.
82.

Matt Osborne first performed for WWE from 1985-86. He had a second stint

performing for WWE from October 1992 until October 1993, when WWE ceased booking him
for events due to drug problems he had. After October of 1993, Osborne never performed for
WWE again.
83.

On December 10, 2007, WWE sponsored a 15th anniversary show celebrating its

flagship RAW television program in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The WWE invited some past
performers who had appeared on the show to attend and make a token appearance, and Matt
Osborne was one of them.
84.

Between October 1993 and December 10, 2007, Osborne did not appear at or

perform for WWE, and did not appear or perform again after his one-time appearance on
December 10, 2007.

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85.

WWE has a program which offers former performers rehabilitation assistance if

they have a drug or alcohol problem. Matt Osborne requested such help, and WWE paid for
rehab for Matt Osborne from February 20, 2008 to May 4, 2008.
86.

On June 28, 2013, Matt Osborne died from an overdose of morphine and

hydrocodone, some 20 years after last performing for WWE, and five years after WWE
attempted to help him recover from his life-long pattern of substance abuse.
COUNT I — DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
87.

Each and every one of the foregoing allegations is incorporated herein by

reference and reasserted as though fully set forth at length.
88.

None of the named defendants have performed for the WWE within three years of

the date this complaint was filed.
89.

The June 2, 2015 letters assert that the named Defendants were “allegedly injured

as a result of WWE’s negligent and fraudulent conduct.”
90.

The June 2, 2015 letters further make certain demands on WWE “in light of the

possible litigation involving this matter” and the “reasonable anticipation of litigation.”
91.

Thus, an actual dispute and controversy exists with respect to whether Defendants

are time-barred from making tort claims with respect to any alleged injuries as a result of
WWE’s supposedly negligent and fraudulent conduct.
92.

The June 2, 2015 letters demand that WWE take action to preserve records which

appear to have some relation to the TBI-related cases Kyros has filed against WWE.
93.

Under Connecticut law, all tort claims are subject to a three-year statute of

limitations/statute of repose measured from the act or omission complained of. See C.G.S. § 52577; C.G.S. § 52-584.

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94.

Because no Defendant has performed for WWE since at the latest 1999, an actual

dispute or controversy exists as to whether any alleged TBI-related claims or any alleged tort
claims based on WWE’s supposedly negligent and fraudulent conduct by Defendants are timebarred by the applicable statutes of limitations/statutes of repose under Connecticut law.
95.

On information and belief, Kyros, Haynes, LoGrasso and at least one of the

California plaintiffs continue to solicit former wrestlers to contact Kyros and sue WWE to
maximize their chances of obtaining monies for time-barred and fraudulent claims.
96.

Discovery will be needed to ascertain the identity of the John Doe Defendants, at

which time WWE will seek to amend the Complaint to add each as a named defendant.
97.

The actions of Kyros alleged herein indicate that he will continue his forum

shopping to avoid this Court’s jurisdiction and continue to file stale and fraudulent claims in
other jurisdictions, necessitating the relief sought herein.
98.

Accordingly, a judicial declaration pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201 et seq. is

necessary as to whether any alleged TBI-related claims or any alleged tort claims by Defendants
based on WWE’s supposedly negligent and fraudulent conduct are time-barred by the applicable
statutes of limitations/statutes of repose under Connecticut law.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, WWE respectfully requests that this Honorable Court enter judgment in
favor of WWE and against Defendants, and order the following relief:
(a)

Declare that any alleged TBI-related claims by Defendants are time-barred by the
applicable statutes of limitations/statutes of repose under Connecticut law.

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(b)

Declare that any other alleged tort claims by Defendants based on WWE’s
supposedly negligent and fraudulent conduct are time-barred by the applicable
statutes of limitations/statutes of repose under Connecticut law.

(c)

Such other and further relief as this Court deems just and appropriate.

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
PLAINTIFF WORLD WRESTLING
ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
By: _ /s/ Jeffrey P. Mueller_______
Jerry S. McDevitt (pro hac vice to be filed)
Terry Budd (pro hac vice to be filed)
Curtis B. Krasik (pro hac vice to be filed)
K&L GATES LLP
K&L Gates Center
210 Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 355-6500
Fax: (412) 355-6501
Email: jerry.mcdevitt@klgates.com
Email: terry.budd@klgates.com
Email: curtis.krasik@klgates.com
Thomas D. Goldberg (ct04386)
Jonathan B. Tropp (ct11295)
Jeffrey P. Mueller (ct27870)
DAY PITNEY LLP
242 Trumbull Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 275-0100
Fax: (860) 275-0343
Email: tgoldberg@daypitney.com
Email: jbtropp@daypitney.com
Email: jmueller@daypitney.com

Its Attorneys.

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF OREGON
PORTLAND DIVISION

WILLIAM ALBERT HAYNES III,
individually and on behalf of all others
similarly situated,
Case No. 3:14-cv-01689-ST
Plaintiff,
OPINION AND ORDER
v.
WORLD WRESTLING
ENTERTAINMENT, INC.,
Defendant.

STEWART, Magistrate Judge:
INTRODUCTION
On October 23, 2014, plaintiff, William Albert Haynes III (“Haynes”), a former
professional wrestler, filed this action on behalf of himself and all other United States residents
who currently or formerly wrestled for defendant, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. 1
0F

(“WWE”), 2 or a predecessor company. 3 He alleges that WWE is in the “business of selling
1F

2F

violence” and has profited at the expense of its wrestlers’ health by subjecting them to extreme
1

The class definition lists the defendant as World “Wide” Entertainment which appears to be a typographical error. First
Amended Class Action Complaint, ¶ 132.
2
“WWE” includes World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., along with all predecessor companies, including but not limited to,
Titan Sports, Inc., World Wrestling Federation, Inc., World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc., World Championship
Wrestling, Inc., and Extreme Championship Wrestling.
3
The class definition excludes WWE, entities controlled by WWE, WWE’s legal representatives, assigns and successors, the
judge to whom this case is assigned, and any member of the judge’s immediate family.

1 – OPINION AND ORDER

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physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused irreversible bodily damage,
including brain damage, without providing adequate medical care. First Amended Class Action
Complaint (“FAC”), ¶ 1. Additionally, Haynes alleges that WWE engaged in a “campaign of
misinformation and deception to prevent its wrestlers from understanding the true nature and
consequences of the injuries they have sustained.” Id. As a result of WWE’s “representations,
actions, and inactions,” WWE wrestlers have suffered “long-term debilitating injuries, lost
profits, premature retirement, medical expenses, and other losses.” Id. In particular, WWE
wrestlers have suffered repeated head injuries which have altered wrestlers’ brains and resulted
in an “array of side effects, including depression, cognitive deterioration, and suicide.” Id, ¶ 3.
WWE has both failed to protect its wrestlers by concealing and denying the medical research and
evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries and deliberately heightened the violence of its
matches in order to increase its own profits. Id, ¶¶ 1, 4.
Based on these allegations, Haynes alleges the following seven claims against WWE:
(1) Fraudulent Concealment and Failure to Disclose or Warn (“First Claim”); (2) Negligent
Misrepresentation (“Second Claim”); (3) Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (“Third Claim”);
(4) Negligence (“Fourth Claim”); (5) Medical Negligence (“Fifth Claim”); (6) Medical
Monitoring (“Sixth Claim”); and (7) Strict Liability for Abnormally Dangerous Activities
(“Seventh Claim”).
Haynes is a citizen of Oregon. 4 The matter in controversy exceeds $5 million, exclusive
3F

of interest and costs. Id, ¶ 14. WWE is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of

4

Haynes alleges that he is a “resident” of Oregon. FAC, ¶ 16. However, “[r]esidence and citizenship are not the same thing.”
Seven Resorts, Inc. v. Cantlen, 57 F3d 771, 774 (9th Cir 1995) (citation omitted). A person’s state of citizenship is determined by
the person’s state of domicile, not state of residence. Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F3d 853, 857 (9th Cir 2001). “A
person’s domicile is her permanent home, where she resides with the intention to remain or to which she intends to return.” Id,
citing Lew v. Moss, 797 F2d 747, 749 (9th Cir 1986). “A person residing in a given state is not necessarily domiciled there . . . .”
Id. For purposes of the present motions, this court assumes that Haynes is both a resident and a citizen of Oregon.

2 – OPINION AND ORDER

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business in Stamford, Connecticut. Id, ¶ 17. Accordingly, this court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this case under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 USC § 1332(d)(2).
WWE has now filed a Motion to Dismiss (docket #44) and a Motion to Transfer Venue
(docket #47) seeking either dismissal of all seven claims or, if any claims remain, transfer of this
action to the District of Connecticut. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Transfer Venue
is GRANTED and this action is transferred to the United States District Court for the District of
Connecticut for resolution of the Motion to Dismiss.
DISCUSSION
WWE asks this court to rule on its Motion to Dismiss before ruling on the Motion to
Transfer Venue. However, among other things, the parties dispute whether this court has
personal jurisdiction over the WWE. Where “personal jurisdiction is difficult to determine, and
forum non conveniens considerations weigh heavily in favor of dismissal,” the United States
Supreme Court expressly authorizes trial courts to take “the less burdensome course” and decide
the forum non conveniens issue before any merits-based issues. 5 Sinochem Int’l Ltd. v. Malaysia
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Int’l Shipping Corp., 549 US 422, 436 (2007).
I. Legal Standard
“A motion to transfer venue is a non-dispositive matter falling within the province of a
United States Magistrate Judge.” Penguin Grp. (USA) Inc. v. Am. Buddha, No. 3:13–cv–00497–
HU, 2013 WL 6385916, at *1 n1 (D Or Dec. 6, 2013) (citations omitted); see also Pavao v.
Unifund CCR Partners, 934 F Supp2d 1238, 1241 n1 (SD Cal 2013) (citing cases).
///

5

Although Sinochem involved a forum non conveniens dismissal in favor of pending litigation in a foreign court, the same logic
applies with equal force to a forum non conveniens transfer to another district court: “For the federal court system, Congress has
codified the doctrine and has provided for transfer, rather than dismissal, when a sister federal court is the more convenient place
for trial of the action.” Sinochem, 549 US at 1190-91 (citations omitted).

3 – OPINION AND ORDER

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“For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court
may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or
to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” 28 USC § 1404(a). A motion
under 28 USC § 1404(a) requires a district court to engage in a two-step inquiry. The threshold
issue is whether the case could have been brought in the forum to which transfer is sought.
Hatch v. Reliance Ins. Co., 758 F2d 409, 414 (9th Cir 1985). The court considers whether the
proposed forum “would have had subject matter jurisdiction at the time the action was filed;
[whether] defendants would have been subject to personal jurisdiction; and [whether] venue
would have been proper.” E. & J. Gallo Winery v. F. & P. S .p.A., 899 F Supp 465, 466 (ED Cal
1994) (citations omitted).
If the action could have been brought in the forum where transfer is sought, the court then
considers “whether the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, and the
interest of justice weigh in favor of transferring venue to that forum. This step of the inquiry
requires an ‘individualized, case-by-case consideration of convenience and fairness.’” Jones v.
GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F3d 495, 498 (9th Cir 2000), quoting Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh
Corp., 487 US 22, 29 (1988). Relevant factors include:
(1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and
executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law,
(3) the plaintiffs choice of forum, (4) the respective parties’
contacts with the forum, (5) the contracts relating to the plaintiff's
cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs
of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory
process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party wit-nesses,
and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof.
Id at 499.
The court may also consider “the local interest in the controversy and the relative court
congestion and time to trial in each forum.” Safe Drain, Inc. v. Vito, No. C–14–01867–DMR,

4 – OPINION AND ORDER

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2014 WL 4088147, at * 3 (ND Cal August 19, 2014), citing Williams v. Bowman, 157 F Supp2d
1103, 1106 (ND Cal 2001).
The district court has great discretion in deciding whether the relevant factors warrant
transfer of the action to another forum. See Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F2d 635, 639
(9th Cir 1988) (“‘Weighing of factors for and against transfer involves subtle considerations and
is best left to the discretion of the trial judge.’”), quoting Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v.
Savage, 611 F2d 270, 279 (9th Cir1979).
II. Analysis
This court has carefully considered the materials submitted in connection with both of the
pending motions and concludes that transfer of this action is warranted. It is clear that this action
could have been filed in the District of Connecticut. Moreover, the record reveals that, for 15 of
the 30 years at issue in this case, 6 every booking contract between the WWE and its wrestlers
5F

contains a forum selection clause requiring the parties to submit “all disputes arising out of or
relating in any way to” the booking contract “exclusively to the jurisdiction of the United States
District Court of Connecticut.” Langham Aff. (docket #47-1), ¶¶ 15-16. Based on those
mandatory forum selection clauses, one district court has already transferred a substantially
similar case to the District of Connecticut. Singleton, et al. v. World Wrestling Entm’t, Inc.,
Eastern District of Pennsylvania Case No. 5:15-cv-00223-LS. In two other cases filed in
Tennessee and California, motions to transfer venue to the District of Connecticut based on the
existence of forum selection clauses in the wrestlers’ contracts with WWE remain pending.
Frazier v. World Wrestling Entm’t, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-02198-JPM-cgc (WD Tenn) (Motion to

6

At a minimum, this case purports to cover wrestling between 1986 when that Haynes began wrestling with the
WWE’s predecessor and the present. FAC, ¶¶ 16 (noting that Haynes wrestled with the WWE between 1986 and
1988), 132 (defining class as “[a]ll persons who currently or formerly wrestled for [WWE] or a predecessor
company . . . .”) (emphasis added).

5 – OPINION AND ORDER

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Change Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) Due to Forum-Selection Clauses in the Contracts
Between WWE and the Decedent (docket #5) filed March 27, 2015, pending); and McCullough
et al. v. World Wrestling Entm’t, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-02662-AB-JEM (CD Cal) (WWE’s Motion to
Transfer Venue Due to Mandatory Forum-Selection Clauses in the Contracts Between the Parties
(docket #16), set for a hearing on July 13, 2015).
The bulk of the relevant factors are either neutral or weigh in favor of a transfer of this
case. As to where the relevant agreement was negotiated, the record reveals that Haynes
“negotiated the terms of [his] relationship” in Oregon by telephone with WWE’s predecessor,
Titan Sports, Inc. Haynes Decl. (docket #51), ¶ 4. 7 However, that factor is neutral, given that it
6F

appears likely that the negotiator for WWE’s predecessor was in Connecticut or some other state.
The pleadings do not identify the place(s) of performance of that booking contract, though
Haynes now avers that he participated in “at least” four wrestling matches in Oregon. Id, ¶ 7.
He does not deny participating in wrestling matches for WWE’s predecessor in other states, and
nothing currently in the record ties his four Oregon wrestling matches to the damages alleged in
this case. Thus, contacts relating to the plaintiff’s cause of action is a neutral factor. The
difference in costs of litigation is neutral, given that either Haynes must travel to Connecticut or
WWE must travel to Oregon. The record supports WWE’s contention that the availability of
compulsory process to compel attendance of non-party witnesses and the ease of access to
sources of proof both weigh in favor of transfer.
This leaves only the plaintiff’s chosen forum and the relative familiarity of Oregon courts
with Oregon law. “Although great weight is generally accorded plaintiff’s choice of forum,
when an individual brings a derivative suit or represents a class, the named plaintiff’s choice of
7

While Haynes states that he requested and was refused a written contract (Haynes Decl., ¶ 5), WWE states that Haynes
“entered into a booking agreement” dated June 2, 1986, implying that it was a written agreement. However, WWE has not
submitted a copy of any written booking agreement between Haynes and WWE’s predecessor.

6 – OPINION AND ORDER

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forum is given less weight.” Lou v. Balzberg, 834 F2d 730, 739 (9th Cir 1987) (citations
omitted). See also Johns v. Panera Bread Co., No. 08–1071–SC, 2008 WL 2811827 (ND Cal
July 21, 2008) (citing cases “consistent with Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court authority” for the
proposition that “[p]laintiff’s decision to seek to represent a nationwide class substantially
undercuts this deference [normally afforded plaintiff’s choice of forum].”). Whatever remaining
deference that is accorded plaintiff’s choice of forum is further eroded by evidence in the record
that many of the putative class members are subject to mandatory forum selection clauses
requiring disputes to be resolved in the District of Connecticut. Langham Decl., ¶¶ 15-16.
In addition, it appears that Haynes’s attorneys may be engaging in forum shopping. “If
there is any indication that plaintiff’s choice of forum is the result of forum shopping, plaintiff’s
choice will be accorded little deference.” Williams v. Bowman, 157 F Supp2d 1103, 1106 (ND
Cal July 26, 2001) (citation omitted). On January 16, 2015, shortly before the filing of the FAC
and currently pending motion to dismiss based on Oregon’s statute of repose in this case, a
second nationwide class action, Singleton, was filed in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs in Singleton are represented by one of the
attorneys representing Haynes in this case, Konstantine Kyros (“Kyros”). Just over two months
later, on March 23, 2015, Judge Lawrence Stengel transferred the Singleton action to the District
of Connecticut, noting that plaintiffs did not oppose a transfer of venue and agreed that the
District of Connecticut is an appropriate forum. Order dated March 23, 2015 (docket #11). On
May 22, 2015, the Singleton plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, voluntarily dismissing their
class allegations. Singleton, et al. v. World Wrestling Entm’t, Inc., United States District Court
of Connecticut (New Haven), Case No. 3:15–cv–00425-VLB, First Amended Complaint (docket
#67).

7 – OPINION AND ORDER

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On February 18, 2015, prior to the transfer of the Singleton action, the Personal
Representative for a the estate of a former WWE wrestler, also represented by Kyros, filed
another case in Tennessee state court, alleging claims for negligence, negligent and intentional
misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, fraud by omission/failure to warn, vicarious liability,
wrongful death, punitive damages, and loss of consortium. Frazier, et al. v. World Wrestling
Entm’t, Inc., Circuit Court of Shelby County Tennessee (Thirtieth Judicial District at Memphis),
Case No. CT-000702-15. That case was subsequently removed to the United States District
Court for the Western District of Tennessee. On March 27, 2015, WWE filed a Motion to
Change Venue (docket #5) based on the terms of a mandatory forum-selection clause in the
booking contract. That motion has, as yet, not been decided.
Finally, on April 9, 2015, McCullough, an identical nationwide class action, was filed in
the Central District of California. The McCullough action alleges several claims identical to
those alleged here and adds a claim for violation of the California Unfair Competition Law.
Again, based on mandatory forum-selection clauses in booking contracts, the WWE has moved
to transfer that case to the District of Connecticut, and a hearing is set on that motion in midJuly. Kyros is not listed as counsel in that case, and WWE attorneys have been unable to
confirm whether he represents the plaintiffs. However, the pleadings in the McCullough action
incorporate many of the identical allegations and photographs and seek the identical relief
alleged in the FAC in this case.
This court is persuaded that the content and timing of these multi-jurisdictional filings
constitute evidence of forum shopping. Accordingly, plaintiff’s choice of Oregon as one state on
a hit-list of potential venues for this nationwide class action is “accorded little deference.”
///

8 – OPINION AND ORDER

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ORDER
Based on the above, it is ORDERED that WWE’s Motion to Transfer Venue (docket
#47) is GRANTED and this case is transferred to the United States District Court for the District
of Connecticut.
This court expresses no opinion on the merits of any portion of the WWE’s Motion to
Dismiss (docket #44) which is reserved for a ruling by the United States District Court for the
District of Connecticut.
DATED June 25, 2015.

s/ Janice M. Stewart
Janice M. Stewart
United States Magistrate Judge

9 – OPINION AND ORDER

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