New York digs in against Zuffa in Motion to Dismiss
April 22, 2013
The Zuffa-New York litigation continues on despite reports last month that the parties had entered into negotiations to settle the case. MMA Payout has learned that the New York Attorney General cancelled the settlement conference citing it would not agree to professional MMA in the state under any circumstances.
As a result of the cancelled settlement conference, the parties submitted supplemental briefing on New York’s Motion to Dismiss in response to the issue of whether under section 8905, the statute banning MMA, a professional MMA event would be permitted if it is sanctioned by one of the martial arts organizations listed in the statute and how that interpretation would affect New York’s Motion to Dismiss.
In its Supplemental Briefing, New York contends that even if a professional MMA event could be sanctioned by an exempt organization listed in the statute, it would still not be permitted. New York cites the New York State Athletic Commission, the regulatory body governing the exempt organization in the statute, in arguing that the intent of the statute did not contemplate MMA. The NY State Athletic Commission sides with the defendants in this interpretation.
Moreover, New York argues that regardless of the unambiguous nature of the statute, the Court must look to the actual intent through the legislative history. The state goes on to cite that the intent of the law was to ban Ultimate Fighting and that sanctioning of such activities was not contemplated at the time of the creation of the statute.
Zuffa frames its opposition to New York’s Motion to Dismiss argument on the basic premise of whether it has pled sufficient facts for its claim that the New York statute banning MMA is unconstitutionally vague. It also counters New York’s supplemental briefing with the transcript from the Motion to Dismiss hearing where the New York AG states, “[I]t looks as if one of these exempt organizations could sanction a mixed martial arts event.” (Page of 5 of Plaintiffs’ Response to Defendant’s Supplemental Memo of Law). Zuffa goes on to outline the number of interpretations the state of New York has had regarding the New York statute. As a result, the number of interpretations suggests that the Court cannot dismiss its claims.
While most thought that the lawsuit would come to a happy ending for the UFC in terms of a settlement that is not the case. Although a reading of the statute would suggest that an exempt organization identified in the statute would be able to sanction a UFC event, New York has come back to argue that despite the reading of the statute…that’s not how it should be read. Furthermore, despite what appears (via the transcript) that the AG admits that the statute could have an exempt organization sanction an MMA event, New York argues otherwise.
As we recently learned in the Alvarez-Bellator lawsuit, settlement negotiations do not necessarily mean the parties will settle. Of course, we also learned that it’s hard to dismiss a case on a party’s Motion to Dismiss. The Court has yet to render a decision. MMA Payout will keep you posted.