Zuffa files opposition to New York’s motion to dismiss

December 7, 2012

Last Friday, Zuffa filed its opposition brief to the Attorney General for the state of New York’s motion to dismiss its case in New York.  As you may recall, Zuffa (and its fighters named personally in the Complaint) filed its lawsuit against the state of New York for its ban on MMA.

To provide a short procedural history of what’s has happened the past couple of months, the Attorney General for the state of New York (“New York”) filed a motion to dismiss two of Zuffa’s claims back in August which the Court granted.  In September, Zuffa amended its Complaint which seemed to add back the two dismissed claims but with different theories.  New York has now filed a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety.

Zuffa’s opposition to NY’s motion to dismiss
Among the points argued in the opposition briefing filed on November 30th, Zuffa defends its Amended Complaint by stating that the MMA legislative ban violates the First Amendment.

In its Motion to Dismiss, New York argued that “[c]ompetitive sports are generally not protected by the First Amendment.”  Zuffa rebuts this argument in its opposition in arguing that “[f]or First Amendment purposes, there is an essential difference between  banning conduct in all circumstances and banning that conduct (as is done here) only when it is done for the purpose of entertaining a live audience. “  Here, Zuffa argues that New York allows the practice of MMA but not when it is in front of a live audience.  Thus, the distinction Zuffa argues before the Court is that of audience and not just conduct.

Payout Perspective:

For purposes of this post we focus on the First Amendment claim.  Zuffa’s opposition does a good job in laying out the differences between New York’s positions on the MMA ban while identifying the inconsistencies in the legislation.  Notably, it explains the difference in interpretation of the First Amendment issue.

While New York contends that the First Amendment issue relates to conduct, Zuffa argues that it is not just conduct but the expressive conduct before a live audience.  Will the Court agree with Zuffa’s interpretation of its First Amendment argument to survive New York’s Motion to Dismiss?

MMA Payout will continue to monitor as New York files its Reply brief.

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