Full details have been revealed on TNA’s lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment and Brian Wittenstein. The details look at what exactly TNA thinks Wittenstein gave to the company, why they are suing and why they think WWE tampered with Ric Flair’s TNA deal.
The lawsuit itself is 37 pages. TNA says that Wittenstein signed a “severance agreement” in August 2011, which means he was fired in spite of his claims to the contrary. He agreed to a severance package in exchange for not giving out any confidential information and returning any company materials. A copy of the agreement was included in the filing, with only the amount he was paid blacked out. Wittenstein then allegedly “downloaded and took TNA’s confidential, trade secret and proprietary information after leaving his employment with TNA.” It says that Wittenstein, as Talent Relations Coordinator, had access to TNA’s computer network and information.
TNA’s lawsuit says that they are “uncertain of the full breadth of Wittenstein’s” theft and thinks that he took documents that included: copies of TNA’s policies and procedures, a spreadsheet containing personal and confidential information regarding TNA’s wrestling talent and staff, a spreadsheet containing the terms of TNA’s contracts “with its prospective, present and past wrestling talent”, a spreadsheet containing “confidential information regarding activity, payment and royalty reports” for TNA talents, a draft contract between TNA and one of its wrestlers, an executed contract between TNA and one of its wrestlers and a draft promotional agreement between TNA and a licensee. They said that their severance agreement let him go work for WWE or any other competitor if he “complied with his obligations” not to use the material or information.
Wittenstein sent a memorandum to WWE “summarizing TNA’s contracts with its wrestling talent.” In the email, included with the suit, Wittenstein wrote: “Attached, please find a contract status and terms chart for the TNA Wrestling roster. I combined a bunch of different documents I had from there to put it all in one concise spreadsheet that should capture all the relevant information you would be interested in. Here are a few notes for you regarding the TNA deals.”
TNA claims that all of the information was given to their primary competitor, which explains the Unfair Competition aspect of the suit. They think WWE knows all of the details of their talents contracts and can make moves to acquire the talent whenever they want. Wittensten’s supervisor (which may be Michael Hayes because he was working as his assistant) turned the material over to WWE’s legal department and Wittenstein was fired by the WWE in April. He worked for the company as a Live Event Booking Assistant.
TNA didn’t find out about the problem until May 7, when WWE’s Vice President of Legal/Business Affairs Scott Amann contacted TNA’s General Counsel Creede Williams, telling them that Wittenstein gave WWE information about TNA without WWE asking for it, and they fired him as a result of it. TNA was given a copy of the information in “both hard and electronic form”. They claim that WWE had the material for three weeks before contacting them, and Amann “did not explain the reason(s) for the delay”. They also claim that Wittenstein admitted giving them the information and “represented to TNA that he did so at the request of WWE.” TNA believes that WWE “solicited and/or inducted” Wittenstein to give them the material and has “unclean hands” in the matter.
TNA also “has reason to believe” that WWE is using the information to “solicit or induce TNA’s current wrestling talent to end their contractual relationships with TNA.” They company said that on May 9, Ric Flair “attempted to terminate his contractual relationship with TNA” and “made statements” that led TNA to believe he was planning to join WWE. He was under exclusive contract with TNa at the time. They say that the timing is “highly suspect” and that Flair was in contract breach by not showing up for events including the Sacrifice PPV.
TNA made another filing that requested two hour depositions of Flair, John Laurinaitis and Paul Levesque (HHH). There is no reference to Flair appearing at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony and Wrestlemania, which TNA previously signed off on. No other TNA talents have been named as being tampered with by WWE. There have been cases in the past of talent trying to have secret meetings with other companies or seeing if there is any interest. The company put up a $30,000 bond to prevent WWE and Wittenstein from using, destroying or copying any material they may have in their possession. They want all of the materials returned before a June 11 hearing in Nashville. TNA filed the lawsuit there, as Wittenstein worked in their corporate offices at the time. Since WWE has business there, TNA filed the suit there and WWE is under TN jurisdiction.
They are suing for interference with existing contracts, conversion, breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unfair competition, and violation of the Tennessee Uniform Trade Secrets Act. They are also suing Wittenstein for breach of duty of loyalty. They want reimbursement of payments made to Wittenstein for his severance as well as attorney fees and expenses. They also want a court order to stop WWE and Wittenstein from ever revealing or using the material, and to make Wittenstein return the material he may have. They were specifically instructed not to “destroy” any of the material.
TNA claims there is a civil conspiracy as the two parties “conspired and agreed” to share the information that Wittenstein “wrongfully took” from TNA. They claim WWE would and “did use” that information “to solicit and induce TNA’s wrestling talent to breach their contracts with TNA and enter into contracts with WWE.” They said that because of the “misappropriation and/or threatened misappropriation of TNA’s trade secrets, TNA will suffer damages, as well as immediate and irreparable harm. TNA has no adequate remedy at law.” The lawsuit reads that “money damages cannot adequately compensate TNA, even if Defendants could respond by paying money damage.”
The filing says that TNA was “damaged in an amount in excess of the court’s minimal jurisdictional limits” and that the conduct of WWE and Wittenstein “entitles TNA to an award of exemplary damages in an amount in excess of this Court’s minimal jurisdictional limit.”