WWE TOSSED FROM FEDERAL COURT
Sep 24, 2013 - by Steve Gerweck
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) was thrown for a loss last week when the United States District Court in Arizona rejected WWE’s efforts to transfer a lawsuit filed by one of its former road producers to the federal court. On September 18th, United States District Judge G. Murray Snow, held that the lawsuit, filed against WWE and star wrestler Paul Wight, known as “Big Show,” should be returned to the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona, where it was originally filed in April 2013. The suit charges that WWE road producer Andrew Green suffered damages when Big Show attacked him, without provocation, as Mr. Green was trying to arrange to have Big Show appear for a scheduled on-camera interview. That assault was captured on videotape and posted by WWE on the Internet. WWE moved the lawsuit to the federal court in Arizona shortly after it was filed, claiming that the allegations by Green involved issues of federal copyright law. Green and his wife, through their counsel, Hartley Bernstein, disagreed, arguing that the claims against WWE and Big Show centered on the injuries suffered by Green as a result of the assault, and the mental harm, humiliation and emotional injury he suffered when the video was placed on the Internet. In rejecting WWE’s efforts to move the case into federal court, Judge Snow held that the rights Green (and his wife) are struggling to protect are “freedom from ridicule and emotional distress,” which are “qualitatively different from copyright rights.” He went on to explain that “this additional element of emotional harm, due not to unauthorized use but widespread humiliation, changes the nature of the action from a copyright claim to a separate state-law tort claim.” The Greens are represented by Hartley Bernstein of the New York law firm, Bernstein Cherney LLP and George Mueller of the Mueller Law Group, P.A. in Phoenix Arizona.