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18.9.14 0251
The W - Pro Wrestling - Raven's Lawsuit Dismissed
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bash91
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Since: 2.1.02
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.99
I happened across this (ctemploymentlawblog.com) today and was reminded that this had been a topic of interest (The W) on a couple of different occasions. (The W) After scanning the decision (pdf) (ctemploymentlawblog.com), it looks like the court found that the WWE was totally correct as a matter of law.

Tim



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hansen9j
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Since: 7.11.02
From: Riderville, SK

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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.43
Zero determination of correctness was made. The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit too late, so the suit was dismissed.



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CajunMan
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Give me a Title shot!

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.68
Just saw this on FOXNEWS. They discussed this issue on "Kelly's Court"(Blonde with hot legs). I was in a loud coffee house but it sounded like they were siding with the WWE on the issue. Raven & other wrestlers knew what or should have known what they were getting into here.
oldschoolhero
Knackwurst








Since: 2.1.02
From: nWo Country

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
Yep, that's pretty much the killer there. Raven et al happily signed agreements in line with WWE's wishes. It's difficult to build a case when the feeling is that, had their WWE careers panned out, they wouldn't have a negative thing to say about their contracts. The presence of Chris "Will Set Himself On Fire For Controversy" Kanyon on the plaintiff's side didn't help their PR any, either.



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geemoney
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Since: 26.1.03
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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.51
But the "well, they signed it, they knew what they were getting into" defense didn't work when Brock Lesnar was able to get out of his non-compete, so I wouldn't say that was the main reason WWE was able to get it tossed. Scanning the pdf file, it looks like there was more to it than the statute of limitations running out.

(edited by geemoney on 9.3.09 1401)
Hogan's My Dad
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Since: 8.6.02
From: Canada

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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.84
    Originally posted by geemoney
    But the "well, they signed it, they knew what they were getting into" defense didn't work when Brock Lesnar was able to get out of his non-compete, so I wouldn't say that was the main reason WWE was able to get it tossed. Scanning the pdf file, it looks like there was more to it than the statute of limitations running out.

    (edited by geemoney on 9.3.09 1401)


It also isn't the case when, in and of itself, the typical WWE contract is unreasonably restrictive. The whole fact of WWE performers being independent contractors in name only, for example, and having none of the freedoms that generally go along with that status, is something that looks bad on WWE. Particularly in the age of corporate malfeasance and a general public distrust of big business.



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spf
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Since: 2.1.02
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.16
    Originally posted by oldschoolhero
    Yep, that's pretty much the killer there. Raven et al happily signed agreements in line with WWE's wishes. It's difficult to build a case when the feeling is that, had their WWE careers panned out, they wouldn't have a negative thing to say about their contracts. The presence of Chris "Will Set Himself On Fire For Controversy" Kanyon on the plaintiff's side didn't help their PR any, either.

The suit very clearly states that it is a timing issue. None of them filed within 6 years of signing their contract.

I would be curious if someone recently released tried the same tactic.



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rv581
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Since: 2.12.02

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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
    Originally posted by CajunMan
    Just saw this on FOXNEWS. They discussed this issue on "Kelly's Court"(Blonde with hot legs).


Ah, Megyn Kelly...

Hottest newsbabe on the dial, IMO.



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odessasteps
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Since: 2.1.02
From: MD, USA

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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.29
    Originally posted by spf
      Originally posted by oldschoolhero
      Yep, that's pretty much the killer there. Raven et al happily signed agreements in line with WWE's wishes. It's difficult to build a case when the feeling is that, had their WWE careers panned out, they wouldn't have a negative thing to say about their contracts. The presence of Chris "Will Set Himself On Fire For Controversy" Kanyon on the plaintiff's side didn't help their PR any, either.

    The suit very clearly states that it is a timing issue. None of them filed within 6 years of signing their contract.

    I would be curious if someone recently released tried the same tactic.


Given the number of people being "future endeavored," it's possible.



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Downtown Bookie
Morcilla








Since: 7.4.02
From: The Inner City, Now Living In The Country

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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.26
I am not an attorney. Repeat: I am not an attorney.

Based upon my reading U.S. District Judge Dorsey's decision (which bash91 was gracious enough to attach to his post), it appears that WWE was granted its motion to dismiss based in part upon the failure of the plaintiffs to bring suit within the relevant statutes of limitations. But only in part. There is much more to this decision.

The plaintiffs (Raven, Chris Kanyon and others) claim against the defendant WWE was that the plaintiffs "are mischaracterized as independent contractors when by nature of the relationship they are, by operation of the law, employees." Plaintiffs further claim "to have been deprived of rights, incidents and benefits to which employees are entitled and in a specifically alleged breach defendant allegedly failed to withhold as required by law." The plaintiffs alleged unjust enrichment by the WWE as a result of their "characterization of wrestlers as independent contractors and thus depriving them of rights, incidents and benefits to which employees are entitled, without specifying any resulting losses." I believe that last part is key, and I'll get to that in a moment.

As the decision notes, withholding is a red herring. The Booking Contract required that WWE's payments to each plaintiff be "in full without withholding, except where required by law." Had the WWE withheld as the plaintiffs claim they would have if the wrestlers were properly (in the plaintiffs' eyes) classified as employees, the funds would have been taken from the wrestler's paychecks and paid to the government and applied by the government to the plaintiffs tax liability. By not withholding, the WWE left it to the plaintiffs to take the appropriate amount from their own paychecks and make the required payments. "There is no allegation of fact that would establish a legal obligation in defendant to do so [withhold]"; but even if there was, since the withholding would have come from the wrestlers' paychecks, WWE was not enriched in any way by its failure to withhold, and the wrestlers did not suffer any loss from the WWE's failure to withhold. The point is moot.

Regarding the losses the wrestlers suffered by being characterized as independent contractors rather than employees of WWE, we come to the section I placed in bold print above. From the decision:
    Originally posted by U.S. District Judge Dorsey
    Plaintiffs also assert that defendantís mischaracterizing them as independent contractors denied them rights, incidents and benefits of employment. No specification of any particular deprivation is articulated. Further there is no identification of any failure by defendant to provide any right, incident or benefit. The claim of unjust enrichment is thus stated as a legal conclusion without factual substantiation....Plaintiffs would put to the trier of fact the determination of what incidents or benefits of employment defendant failed to provide, without limitation and affording defendant no opportunity to know what incidents and/or benefits are to be the focus of evidence at trial and thus no opportunity to prepare and present a defense to the claim."
As I read it, the plaintiffs failed to specify exactly how they were harmed by being characterized as independent contractors instead of employees, leaving that determination to the court. In my opinion this was the plaintiffs' fatal error. While the precise monetary value of a loss may not be specified, the wrestlers needed to state exactly how they were harmed and how WWE was unjustly enriched by characterizing the wrestlers as independent contractors rather than employees. The suit in effect states, "We were harmed but we don't know how." The failure to specify how ultimately doomed the suit.

Finally, as regards the failure to bring suit within the required time frame, the Connecticut Statue of Limitations "bars an action for breach of contract unless brought within six (6) years of the accrual of the right of action." Since the wrestlers do not claim that their status as employees rather than independent contractors evolved over time, it must be presumed that the wrestlers are claiming that they were de facto employees from the time that they entered into contract with WWE. Since the time frame from the point when they entered into contract to the point when the suit was filed exceeds the allowable limit, it provides yet one more reason for dismissal.

So while there was a timing issue involved, I think it's clear that this was only one reason why the suit was dismissed. To me, the key was the wrestlers failure to demonstrate exactly how they were harmed by being characterized as independent contractors rather than WWE employees. Future court actions will need to make it clear why the one is preferable to the other.




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Sec19Row53
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Oconomowoc, WI

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Y!:
#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.95
    Originally posted by Downtown Bookie
    To me, the key was the wrestlers failure to demonstrate exactly how they were harmed by being characterized as independent contractors rather than WWE employees. Future court actions will need to make it clear why the one is preferable to the other.

So it seems that someone who fears for their release needs to line up an indy booking, and show that they were denied the opportunity. Wouldn't that meet this requirement of the suit?
Downtown Bookie
Morcilla








Since: 7.4.02
From: The Inner City, Now Living In The Country

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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.26
    Originally posted by Sec19Row53
    So it seems that someone who fears for their release needs to line up an indy booking, and show that they were denied the opportunity. Wouldn't that meet this requirement of the suit?
Again, I am not an attorney, but from my understanding of the issue, I would say no.

From reading the decision, what you're suggesting would definitely be an improvement over the suit that was filed, since it would be an attempt to demonstrate a direct harm that the plaintiffs suffered from being mischaracterized as independent contractors rather than employees by WWE. But it would ultimately fail to bring a judgment against WWE, in my unprofessional opinion, because:

1) Exclusivity can apply to both an independent contractor and to an employee. For example, someone doing commercials/product endorsements for one product may be contractually bound to not do commercials/product endorsements for a competitor's products (or, in certain cases, any other products). So the claim, "If I was really an independent contractor and not an employee I would be allowed to work for two competing companies in the same industry" is not a true statement, and being denied the opportunity to work for a competing company does not demonstrate employee status.

2) Even if the scenario you suggested was to be viewed as proof that these individuals are in fact employees and not independent contractors, it still doesn't demonstrate what benefit(s) the plaintiffs were denied by being mischaracterized. In other words, if the court was to look at the scenario you described and said, "By golly, you're right! These people are employees, not independent contractors!", well, so what? You still haven't told the court what you were entitled to as an employee that you weren't given by the WWE. That's the legal burden that must be overcome in any subsequent suit that wasn't done in this one: tell the court what you lost because you were called an independent contractor rather than an employee by WWE. Was it additional pay? Job security? Health benefits? What's the benefit of being an employee of WWE rather than being an independent contractor? Failing to answer that question is what ultimately led this suit to fail.




http://www.americasupportsyou.mil


"Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help." - Isaiah 58:7 (New Living Translation)
Sec19Row53
Lap cheong








Since: 2.1.02
From: Oconomowoc, WI

Since last post: 2 days
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Y!:
#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.95
    Originally posted by Downtown Bookie
      Originally posted by Sec19Row53
      So it seems that someone who fears for their release needs to line up an indy booking, and show that they were denied the opportunity. Wouldn't that meet this requirement of the suit?
    Again, I am not an attorney, but from my understanding of the issue, I would say no.

    From reading the decision, what you're suggesting would definitely be an improvement over the suit that was filed, since it would be an attempt to demonstrate a direct harm that the plaintiffs suffered from being mischaracterized as independent contractors rather than employees by WWE. But it would ultimately fail to bring a judgment against WWE, in my unprofessional opinion, because:

    1) Exclusivity can apply to both an independent contractor and to an employee. For example, someone doing commercials/product endorsements for one product may be contractually bound to not do commercials/product endorsements for a competitor's products (or, in certain cases, any other products). So the claim, "If I was really an independent contractor and not an employee I would be allowed to work for two competing companies in the same industry" is not a true statement, and being denied the opportunity to work for a competing company does not demonstrate employee status.

    2) Even if the scenario you suggested was to be viewed as proof that these individuals are in fact employees and not independent contractors, it still doesn't demonstrate what benefit(s) the plaintiffs were denied by being mischaracterized. In other words, if the court was to look at the scenario you described and said, "By golly, you're right! These people are employees, not independent contractors!", well, so what? You still haven't told the court what you were entitled to as an employee that you weren't given by the WWE. That's the legal burden that must be overcome in any subsequent suit that wasn't done in this one: tell the court what you lost because you were called an independent contractor rather than an employee by WWE. Was it additional pay? Job security? Health benefits? What's the benefit of being an employee of WWE rather than being an independent contractor? Failing to answer that question is what ultimately led this suit to fail.


Good points. I'm assuming at some point the indy booking would have a contract indicating payment for services. That would be the direct harm they're suffering (failure to earn the additional wages).

Your other points make sense, though. Even that may not be enough.
StingArmy
Andouille








Since: 3.5.03
From: Georgia bred, you can tell by my Hawk jersey

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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.06
    Originally posted by Downtown Bookie
    tell the court what you lost because you were called an independent contractor rather than an employee by WWE. Was it additional pay? Job security? Health benefits? What's the benefit of being an employee of WWE rather than being an independent contractor? Failing to answer that question is what ultimately led this suit to fail.

The benefits of being an employee versus and indepdendent contractor are numerous, obvious, and go without saying. There are several protections afforded to employees that are not given to independent contractors. This includes wage and hour considerations, rights upon termination of the employment agreement, and (probably most important in this particular context) the wrestlers' right to collect from their employers for injuries or wrongful conduct.

This is a very strangely written opinion. If I had to guess how it will be interpreted by future courts, I'm going to have to say that the vast majority of the opinion will be considered dicta while the part about the statute of limitations will be the actual holding. That is, the S.O.L. part is the only controlling part of the case and the sole thing the final decision was based on while the rest of it has no value as precedent and is informative at best and irrelevant at worst.

- StingArmy
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