Matt Riddle has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought on by Candy Cartwright.
As noted back in October at this link, Riddle’s “#SpeakingOut” accuser Cartwright (Samantha Tavel) filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Riddle, WWE, EVOLVE and Gabe Sapolsky. This lawsuit came after Riddle filed a lawsuit against Cartwright back in September, which you can read at this link. Cartwright filed to sue each party for $10 million for various damages, emotional distress, attorney’s fees, and court costs.
In an update, PWInsider reports that on December 3, Riddle filed a motion to dismiss Cartwright’s lawsuit before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Riddle stated that he and Cartwright entered into an extra-marital affair in April 2017 after meeting while working an EVOLVE event in New York City. That relationship continued until Riddle’s wife found out, and that’s when he ended the relationship, according to Riddle. Riddle noted in his filing that, “Ms. Tavel had a hard time accepting the end of the relationship, and Mr. Riddle changed his telephone number more than once to avoid her calls. Mr. Riddle had no control over any employment relationship Ms. Tavel had with Evolve or WWE.”
Regarding the allegations from Cartwright, Riddle denied any wrongdoing in his filing. His filing stated, “Mr. Riddle emphatically denies Ms. Tavel’s torrid tale. He and Ms. Tavel had a nearly three-year affair during which they engaged only in consensual sexual activity. In July 2019, Mr. Riddle ended the affair after his wife learned of the relationship. In June 2020, Ms. Tavel tweeted an accusation that he sexually assaulted her in a van while other wrestlers were asleep.”
Riddle’s motion to dismiss claims that Cartwright’s lawsuit should be dismissed because it fails to establish that the Cook County Circuit Court has jurisdiction over Riddle, and that her specific allegations fail to meet federal pleading requirements that bring them beyond speculation. Riddle’s lawyers argue that Cartwright’s lawsuit fails to claim that Riddle’s alleged “tortious activities were purposefully directed at residents of the forum” as Cartwright is not and has never been a resident of Illinois. Riddle’s lawyers also argued that since Riddle does not live or own property in Illinois, he cannot fall under the jurisdiction of the court.
Riddle’s motion to dismiss also argues that while Riddle was in Illinois performing for EVOLVE and that one alleged incident happened on a bus leaving the venue, those duties would have been completed by the te Riddle was alleged to have assaulted Cartwright, so any professional connection to the state of Illinois had been completed. The motion also claims that Cartwright cannot claim any connection between her “alleged injuries” that stem from Riddle’s alleged sexual assault and the state of Illinois.
For these reasons, Riddle’s lawyers claim the lawsuit should be thrown out as they are not strong enough under Illinois law to move forward with, and that neither party should fall under Illinois jurisdiction in court.
The filing also mentions two different alleged incidents – one in April 2017 and one on May 19, 2018. The motion claims that there are “no facts that tie these alleged injuries to Illinois.” The motion notes that Riddle believed the April 2017 allegation “refers to a consensual sexual encounter the couple had in a car on or about April 23, 2017 in New York City after an EVOLVE event. Mr. Riddle was not in Illinois in April 2017 and did not purposefully direct his activities at any Illinois residents in April 2017.”
Riddle’s motion also included a response to Cartwright alleging that he assaulted her on May 19, 2018 in Illinois following the EVOLVE 104 event. Riddle stated that he did perform that evening at the EVOLVE show in Illinois, and that Cartwright was also at the event. He stated that a videographer named Joseph M. Ranta transported numerous talents from the venue to their hotel in Michigan, using his van as there was another EVOLVE show in Livonia, Michigan the following day. Cartwright’s allegations referenced the incident happening on a bus, while her original tweet on the allegation referred to a van with sleeping EVOLVE wrestlers. Riddle’s response includes an affidavit filed by Ranta, plus interior & exterior photos of his van. Ranta’s affidavit stated that on the night in question, then-EVOLVE talents Keith Lee, JD Drake and Anthony Henry were also in the van with Drake sitting in the front passenger seat,while Lee and Henry sat in the center seats, and Riddle sat in the back seats with Cartwright.
Ranta’s GPS records were also included as evidence. Those records note that the van left the Summit Park District in Illinois on May 20, 2018 at 12:26am. They stopped for gas and left the gas station at 12:34am, then drove 33 miles to a Denny’s restaurant, arriving in Portage, Indiana at 1:22am. They then entered Indiana 36 minutes into the drive, at around 1:10am. Ranta’s affidavit stated that out of all the passengers in his van, only Lee fell asleep during the drive to Denny’s, and that the other four passengers were awake for the drive. Ranta’s affidavit then states that everyone exited the Denny’s restaurant at 2:35am, and drove 2 hours & 37 minutes to Ranta’s home in Mason, Michigan. Ranta stated that Lee, Drake and Henry had all fallen asleep during that drive,while he, Riddle and Cartwright stayed awake for the entire drive. Ranta also stated that he, Riddle and Cartwright spent 12 minutes at his home before he drove everyone to The Comfort Inn Metro Airport location near Detroit, Michigan, where the wrestlers were staying. The alleged assault was not mentioned in the affidavit, but it also does not deny that an assault happened.
Riddle’s motion to dismiss included the following claim:
“Based on Mr. Ranta’s GPS and Ms. Tavel’s June 19, 2020 Twitter post, the earliest time the assault could have occurred was during the 2.5-hour drive between the Denny’s in Portage, Indiana, and Mr. Ranta’s residence in Mason, Michigan. Therefore, it is impossible to state a claim under the IGVA for violence that did not arise in Illinois between nonresidents of Illinois.”
The following claim was also included in the filing:
“Even drawing the facts in a light most favorable to Ms. Tavel, the May 19, 2018 assault is inherently implausible and her right to relief is speculative at best. Mohammed v. Sidecar Technologies, Inc., No. 16 C 2538, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156090, at *20 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 10, 2016) (dismissing claim where court could not draw reasonable inference that defendant violated the statute based on conclusory and speculative allegations). It is implausible that Mr. Riddle would ask to engage in sexual intercourse “in front of other members of Evolve while on a bus,” immediately after performing at a wrestling event, without any witnesses in a small but full vehicle. If that did happen, no matter the size of the vehicle, surely, someone would have noticed the assault and said something. Count I does not plausibly state a claim, and it should be dismissed.”
Riddle is seeking a full dismissal of the case. While it does not appear that EVOLVE or Sapolsky have responded to the court as of this writing, we noted last month that WWE successfully filed to have the lawsuit removed from the Northern District of Illinois. WWE argued that Riddle was not under contract to them at the time of the alleged assault, and that they had no overview or involvement in the EVOLVE events that took place that weekend.