The Firms

October 2, 2009 5:48 PM

K&L Gates in Bizarre WWE Smackdown

Posted by Zach Lowe

Jerry McDevitt, a partner at K&L Gates and outside counsel for the WWE, is one of the more quotable lawyers in the Am Law 100 world, a skill that apparently extends to the written word. 

That's evident from a series of letters and e-mails McDevitt sent last June to the author of an upcoming book about the murder-suicide committed by former WWE star Chris Benoit. 

The author, Irvin Muchnick, is publicizing those emails in short excerpts on Twitter as part of the promotion for his book Chris and Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling's Cocktail of Death

The book uses the Benoit case to examine the well-chronicled use of steroids in the WWE and the health risks wrestlers face. But in the process of writing the book, Muchnick raised several questions about the WWE's conduct in the weeks leading to the Benoit killings and the hours immediately after Benoit hanged himself. 

In particular, Muchnick wondered whether a two-hour gap between the last call Benoit received and the WWE's call to 911 indicated that the WWE "knew the score" about the Benoit case before notifying police. (Muchnick does not elaborate about what he means by "knew the score"). 

Muchnick also claimed that the WWE waited two weeks to punish wrestlers after receiving records from prosecutors in Albany, N.Y., that showed those wrestlers had received performance enhancing drugs from medical professionals under investigation by the state

McDevitt didn't take kindly to Muchnick's reporting, firing off letters like: "Dear Mr Muchnick: Typically, the WWE has ignored your so-called 'reporting' and associated attempts to promote your upcoming book seeking to cash in on the murders committed by Chris Benoit last summer. Perhaps you have confused WWE's disregard of you as a license to print increasingly bizarre and defamatory statements regarding the WWE."

McDevitt goes on to call Muchnick's reporting "pathetic," argue that Muchnick's knows enough about drug testing policies "to fill up a thimble," and jokes that Muchnick is trying to cast himself "as a modern day Mickey Spillane," a reference to the famous crime novelist. 

Muchnick, whose book is being released by ECW Press this week, says he's printing the lawyer's e-mails to show the WWE's displeasure with his inquiry and disprove its allegations that he is claiming WWE had anything to do with Benoit's death.

Despite the publicity, McDevitt isn't taking any of his comments back.  

"He is a quack," McDevitt tells the Am Law Daily, adding that Muchnick had to retract his claim that the WWE's waited two weeks to respond to reports from Albany prosecutors that certain wrestlers were using performance enhancing drugs. Muchnick later admitted the WWE had acted within a day of learning the wrestlers' names. 

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