Zuffa, New York file final round of briefs in summary judgment motions

September 8, 2014

Late last week, the last round of briefing in its motions for summary judgment have been filed by the parties in the Zuffa lawsuit in New York.  Both sides made its final arguments to the Court in hopes of prevailing on summary judgment. The parties filed its reply briefs which address arguments made by the opposing side which rebut the initial summary judgment motions made by the parties.

To refresh your memory, New York is seeking to dismiss Zuffa’s lawsuit in total.  It has already dismissed 6 of the 7 claims made by Zuffa in the lawsuit to legalize pro MMA in the state.  Zuffa is attempting to strike down the law with its motion.

Zuffa’s Reply Brief

Zuffa reiterates some key points in its final briefing before the Court’s review.  The emphasis is that the statute banning pro MMA (sec. 8905-a) is unconstitutionally vague (which is the remaining legal claim).

First, it notes that there are two independent reasons why a statute is vague:  1) lack of notice; and 2) the statute’s arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement.  Zuffa states that the first prong is sufficient for the court to grant summary judgment in favor of Zuffa.  In explaining its position, Zuffa states the standard that “a person of ordinary intelligence” would have reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.  Here, it argues that no one could know what is prohibited based on this statute.

The overarching theme for Zuffa is that the statute is so confusing that even state officials are not able to interpret it. It hammers home this point through the example of the state’s Attorney General agreeing at oral argument that an exempt organization can sanction a pro MMA event. Thus, how can the law be enforced.

In addition, it refutes an argument made by New York in its opposition brief that exempt organizations can sanction to only “single discipline” “traditional” “long recognized” martial arts.  Zuffa points out in its legal argument that New York misinterprets and/or misreads the statute in its favor.  Essentially, New York attempts to cite legislative history when one need only look to the plain meaning of the statute.  Nowhere in the statute does it preclude pro MMA from being sanctioned by an exempt organization.  Yet, Zuffa argues that New York tries to read into the statute. Zuffa also argues that the state’s enforcement has been arbitrary or discriminatory.  In this argument, it states that after discovery in the case, it became clear that state officials lacked clear guidance in enforcing the statute.  Here, Zuffa points out inconsistencies obtained through the discovery process (i.e., written interrogatories and/or depositions).

Zuffa's Reply

New York Reply Brief

New York argues for the dismissal of Zuffa’s case and in so doing it reiterates its strategy that the plaintiffs lack legal standing to bring this claim in federal court.  It also argued that due to the fact that the statute is one of state law, a state court should render the opinion here. In supporting its lack of legal standing argument, it suggests that Zuffa had a mere “oral understanding” with an exempt organization (here the World Kickboxing Association) when Zuffa argued that it had an agreement with the WKA to sanction an event in the state.  If it is found that there was an agreement, it would satisfy the legal standards of standing as there would be a recognizable injury (i.e., New York is preventing Zuffa from conducting an event through the WKA).

However, New York points out there was no written contract, details or anything else that has surfaced as evidence.  New York also notes that the declarations in support do not indicate when the agreement between Zuffa and WKA took place.  It also intimates that the claim that Zuffa and WKA had an agreement to sanction an event did not happen until after the filing of this lawsuit. It also argues that a state statute should be interpreted by a state court and that Federal jurisdiction should abstain from ruling until the state has interpreted the law.  Here, it appears that a state court has yet to generate an opinion on the statute. In addition to its briefing, there is also the motion to strike brought by New York regarding some of the evidence cited by Zuffa in its briefing.  If the court were to grant New York’s motion, a huge chunk of Zuffa’s argument would go away.

AG Reply

Payout Perspective:

It does not appear that the court has determined whether there will be an oral argument in this case.  The court, in its discretion, may review the pleadings and decide at that point whether an oral argument will help it make its decision.  Once again, Zuffa provides solid legal arguments.  The question is whether the arguments would satisfy the Summary Judgment standard which is whether there are no genuine issues of material fact, summary judgment is proper.  As for New York, it is giving the court “an out” with its arguments (lack standing, state court proper forum). MMA Payout will continue to keep you posted.

2 Responses to “Zuffa, New York file final round of briefs in summary judgment motions”

  1. Saldathief on September 9th, 2014 6:33 AM

    New York is doing the ufc a favor, they would end up losing money in ny.

  2. D on September 10th, 2014 3:16 PM

    Sal is a gay idiot.

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