WWE and TNA had a court conference yesterday about TNA’s lawsuit against the company over confidential information that Brian Wittenstein provided to WWE.
WWE requested the hearing because of the deadlines set by the court for expedited discovery, which put them in a position where “they will be unable to adequately prepare” themselves for a planned June 11 hearing. WWE claimed they would not be able to comply with the Discovery Order “without considerable inconvenience and expense”.
WWE filed an affidavit that showed they were going along with the temporary restraining order the court filed against them. This order required them to return any materials had been provided by Wittenstein. The documents were not changed. They said the timeline of incidents leading to the lawsuit is different, including who Wittenstein gave the information to, when he was fired and when TNA was contacted.
The company fired Wittenstein on April 27 after they found out that he gave John Laurinaitis with a CD and printout of the TNA information, that he claimed was from when he worked for TNA. Laurinaitis then immediately told WWE’s legal team about the situation. WWE said that Wittenstein was fired because of their concerns that he had “improperly obtained information” from when he was working for TNA. They said that Laurinaitis did not copy or keep the information.
They also said that when Wittenstein was told he was being fired, they took back his company-issued laptop and blackberry. Searches from their IT department showed no evidence that there were copies of the material on either item. They searched their own email system and in-house servers which had no proof that he emailed the material to anyone else. They said that email boxes of 27 employees in talent relations or creative writing departments were searched. WWE says that the company only had the physical copies that Wittenstein got them.
TNA claimed that WWE waited several weeks before contacting them. WWE claims that after Wittenstein was fired on April 27, WWE’s General Counsel called TNA’s Director or Talent Relations Bruce Prichard “on or around” May 3. Prichard referred them to TNA’s General Counsel Crede Williams. He said messages were left for Crede between May 4 and May 7 before he returned the call. Williams then asked for the material, which they delivered via Express Mail on May 8. TNA received the material on May 9 and the lawsuit was filed on May 23.
WWE said after the lawsuit was filed, they searched their servers and files again and found nothing. WWE said because of their searches, TNA has a “lack of basis for believing WWE has any of their material” and it would not be appropriate for TNA to search the company’s Microsoft Exchange Server for their own concerns for WWE intellectual property landing in the hands of TNA personnel.
WWE said that searches of Laurinaitis’ email account and his laptop found nothing. They also said that while they could turn o ver the laptops and blackberries used by Witteinstein and John Laurinaitis, they are password protected and could not be opened by others outside of WWE. They also said that due to the size of their six working servers, it would be physically impossible to take them to Nashville to be examined.
The court said that due to WWE’s tours set up before the lawsuit being filed, the June 11 hearing is being continued indefinitely. This will let both sides work out scheduling for the Discovery process of the lawsuit, including the WWE’s claims they no longer have any material. They will have to report to the court when they come to an agreement.
There are no changes in the case against Wittenstein. He hasn’t been formally served with a lawsuit, but TNA has contacted a lawyer that is representing Wittenstein. The restraining order has been held up as he returned all confidential material without changing or destroying it. There will be a new hearing on July 12 for Wittenstein regarding the restraining order and he has until June 11 to file opposition or ask for an extension in time.