Latest round of court filings in Zuffa-New York lawsuit

August 24, 2014

Late last week Zuffa and the State of New York have filed its opposition to each party’s motions for summary judgment.  The responsive briefing is the continued litigation in the UFC’s quest to legalize professional MMA in the state.

As you may recall, both parties filed Motions for Summary Judgment.  New York filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in hopes of dismissing the remaining claim by Zuffa that the New York law that bans professional MMA is unconstitutionally vague.  Zuffa’s Motion for Summary Judgment would essentially strike down the law and preclude New York from its enforcement.

In its opposition to New York’s Motion for Summary Judgment it claims that it has standing to raise its challenge to the New York statute.  The argument is in direct rebuttal to New York’s assertion in its moving papers that Zuffa had no standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place since it could not claim injury.   Zuffa contends that it does have standing since it was the “object” of the state regulation.  Here, Zuffa argues that it was a direct object of the law as it is prohibiting professional MMA in the state.

In addition, it rebuts New York’s contention that there was no injury (and thus no standing).  The first was the claim that Zuffa had no plans to hold an event in New York and thus there was no injury.  The second contention was that Zuffa had no agreement with an Exempt Organization in the statute (which would allow for it to hold an event in the state). However, Zuffa argues that it “has taken all steps – short of violating the criminal law – to hold a professional MMA event in New York and it need not put itself in legal jeopardy to establish standing.”  In fact, in its brief, it indicates it has secured a date at Madison Square Garden for 2015.  It also cites that the UFC had discussions with the WKA (“World Kickboxing Association”), an Exempt Organization under the New York law, about working together to hold a UFC event.  Zuffa contends that there was a “meeting of the minds” about putting together professional matches in New York.

The opposition papers from Zuffa also argue that the statute in question is vague as to whether it is enforceable on Indian reservations in New York.  Specifically, Zuffa argues in its pleadings that “it is interested in promoting events on Indian reservations in New York – particularly if it is unable to do so elsewhere in the state.”

New York responds to this assertion about its enforcement of a state statute on an Indian reservation (which as many know, Indian reservations are governed by federal law).  New York argued that it has dominion over “offenses on Indian reservations within the State of New York to the same extent that it has over offenses commented elsewhere in the State.”

In addition, the papers also argue over the vagueness of the statute as it pertains to amateur MMA and the New York liquor statute which allows licenses at events.

Notably, New York is seeking to strike some of the evidence which Zuffa attached to its initial Motion for Summary Judgment stating that it is inadmissible for a variety of evidentiary reasons (e.g., lack of authentication, hearsay, irrelevance, opinion, etc.).  The court will have to determine New York’s motion to strike prior to determining how to rule on Zuffa’s motion.  Some of the evidence New York would like to have stricken from consideration is the issue with the differing interpretations of the law banning professional MMA in the state by multiple government officials.

AG Brief by JASONCRUZ206

Zuffa's Opposition.PDF by JASONCRUZ206

Payout Perspective:

The legal argument continues.  Zuffa appears to have the clearer arguments in the opposition briefing.  However, New York is seeking to strike the evidence which appears to be the most damaging – the multiple interpretations of enforcement of the law.  This would undercut the argument that the statute is unconstitutionally vague since a portion of the legal argument is that the multiple interpretations of the law by the same officials that are to enforce it is evidence that the law is vague.  If that evidence is wiped from the record, there’s less for the court to consider. We will see how each side responds to the opposition briefing.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

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