Samantha Tavel is going after Matt Riddle, WWE, and more in a civil lawsuit.
Fightful learned that Thursday Morning, Samantha Tavel, professionally known as Candy Cartwright, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois. Matt Riddle, World Wrestling Entertainment, Gabe Sapolsky and Evolve Wrestling.
WWE issued a statement to Fightful Thursday night, saying "WWE has not been served with a lawsuit by Ms. Tavel. However, if served, we will vigorously defend ourselves and contest it.”
Gabe Sapolsky got back to us and said "news to me."
According to the documents, Tavel is seeking $10 million per defendant.The attorneys representing Tavel are Hale & Monico's John Chwarynski Jr. Cited by the plaintiff are actual damages, damages from emotional distress, punitive damages, attorney's fees and costs.
Documents from the lawsuit allege that Riddle began sexually assaulting Tavel in April 2017 in the parking lot after an Evolve wrestling event. The lawsuit also alleges that Riddle bragged about this to former Evolve owner Gabe Sapolsky and that those two entities an WWE tacitly approved of Riddle's alleged sexual violence towards Tavel.
Specifically, the lawsuit also alleges that on or about May 19, 2018, Matt Riddle forced Tavel to perform oral sex on him by choking her. In a press conference Tavel says that she declined, but Riddle grabbed her by the throat and said "what if I made you?" The claim states that this was done in front of other members of Evolve while on a bus leaving an event from Summit, Illinois -- the site of EVOLVE 104. In addition, it was said that the misogynistic culture created by the defendants encouraged the behavior, and that WWE has condoned sexual assault in the workplace for over 30 years. Toxic misogyny, and the company's duty to refrain from assisting and encouraging the alleged tortrious conduct was listed as a complaint towards the companies and Sapolsky.
In the lawsuit, it is alleged that Tavel had bookings with WWE and Evolve on or about January 31, 2020, and that prior to that Riddle had forced her to perform sexual acts under the threat that she would lose bookings if she did not. Tavel claims that she refused to continue, and that Riddle informed WWE and Evolve that he did not want her working with the companies and that she was told "issues with talent" prevented the bookings.
It should be noted that in March 2020, several WWN/Evolve videos were tweeted featuring her from the Evolve 146 show. Cartwright appeared on at least one February show as well.
— EVOLVE Wrestling (@WWNEVOLVE) March 2, 2020
— EVOLVE Wrestling (@WWNEVOLVE) March 2, 2020
— Candy Cartwright (@CandyCartwright) March 1, 2020
— EVOLVE Wrestling (@WWNEVOLVE) March 1, 2020
The document's background states that pro wrestling is a male dominated sport and that "in recent years, females have begun to perform for WWE and Evolve." The history of female performers being hypersexualized and performing in lingerie was brought up, as well as the multitude of sexual assault allegations. There is a mention of higher beauty standards for men, and a dangerous culture for women.
Riddle has denied allegations of sexual assualt from Tavel in the past. Allegations emerged in June as a part of the Speaking Out movement, which saw dozens of wrestlers implicated. Riddle has been performing for WWE on the Smackdown brand in recent months, but is subject to roster change due to the impending WWE draft.
There are some notable errors in the document, specifying that Riddle was employed by WWE by the time of May 19, 2018. Riddle hadn't signed with the company for over a month beyond that point. Evolve Wrestling Inc. also did not exist for several months beyond May 19, 2018.
"The lawsuit was filed against each defendant seeking $10 million each. There's an issue with each defendant and it needs to be addressed within professional wrestling. WWE has profited from toxic misogyny since its inception," Chwarynski Jr. told Fightful when we reached out for comment. He would say in a press conference "We can only hope the state’s attorney’s office will do the right thing and open an investigation into this matter and press charges against Matt Riddle,
Tavel held a press conference Thursday to announce the civil lawsuit. "I never thought he would do anything to hurt me and, in that moment, I was terrified." She also said that the accusaitions have essentially ruined her career but that "some things are more important than a career.”
Fightful has reached out to WWE, Sapolsky, Riddle's attorneys, and Tavel's attorneys for comment. We are told that at least attorney's on Riddle's behalf plan on countersuing.
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