Tennis Pro Wants Claims Bounced Back To State Court
On April 9, 2018, ten-year tennis pro Madison Brengle sued the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for physical and emotional consequences related to anti-doping blood tests. The suit was filed in a Florida Circuit Court and seeks damages for battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, Brengle believes that being subjected to vein penetrating blood drawings for anti-doping tests caused her to have extreme physical and emotional pain.
Brengle has a rare medical condition called complex regional pain syndrome which is exacerbated by the vein penetrating blood drawings. Brengle started to have panic attacks about the testing after her first test in 2009 at Wimbledon left her with a collapsed vein. Then in 2016 at the U.S. Open, Brengle was forced to drop out of the tournament in the first round after a test left her hand numb and bruised. The condition and tests have hurt her career and ability. Brengle has lost velocity on her serve and dropped in the world rankings from as high as no. 35 in the world to no. 89.
Brengle’s complaint says that she was given a year exemption from the vein penetrating testing and seeks to extend this exemption for the rest of her career. The complaint also seeks damages of around ten million dollars.
The WTA responded to the claims with a motion to compel arbitration on May 16, 2018. In their motion, the WTA states that Brengle signed a form each year holding her as a professional responsible for the provisions of the WTA’s rulebook. The rulebook mandates that all professionals participate in the ITF anti-doping program and that any dispute over the program must be arbitrated.
The WTA also used the arbitration clause to remove the suit to federal court. The WTA believes that even a determination of whether the dispute is subject to arbitration should be submitted to the American Arbitration Association for resolution.
Now, on June 8, 2018, Brengle asked to remove her suit back to Florida state court on the basis that she is only subjected to the WTA’s arbitration clause. Brengle argues that the other defendants, including the ITF, do not have arbitration clauses. Thus, she wishes to remand any non-WTA claims back to state court. The WTA claim is the only one that has subject matter jurisdiction according to Brengle, and thus, any other claims should be remanded unless the defendants can sufficiently argue that the claims have diversity, federal question, or supplemental jurisdiction.
The WTA responded by saying that they believe the court should arbitrate whether Brengle’s claims should be arbitrated and if they are, then Brengle will need to arbitrate the claims against the WTA in Florida Federal court. Brengle and her attorney Peter Ginsberg hope the court remands their remaining claims and is confident even if they are forced to arbitrate the WTA claim in federal court. Brengle wishes to not only be compensated for her physical and emotion injury, but to increase the WTA’s respect towards their players.