Zuffa files Motion to Dismiss in Antitrust lawsuits

March 1, 2015

The end of the week and the end of the month are always prime dates to zing your opposing counsel with motions.  On Friday, February 27th, Zuffa filed a Motion to Dismiss the four identical Antitrust Complaints filed by former UFC fighters in federal court in San Jose.  The hearing date will not be until July 23rd.

There is a looming Motion to Transfer Venue to be decided by the court that could cause the case to be move to Las Vegas and this motion to be heard before another Judge.  In the meantime, Zuffa’s lawyers have filed this Complaint seeking to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims citing they fail to state any legal claim against the UFC.

The UFC has issued an official statement on its motion to dismiss here.

A portion of the statement reads:

While UFC vigorously contests the plaintiffs’ characterization of the facts, a court deciding a motion to dismiss generally must accept the allegations as true. Even with that high legal standard, UFC’s motion demonstrates that UFC competed in lawful ways that helped fighters and built UFC into a premiere organization in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

The UFC treats its fighters well, compensates them fairly, competes against other MMA promoters, and produces a product that is enjoyed by millions of fans around the world. We are confident in our legal position and expect to ultimately win this lawsuit.

As for the actual motion, Zuffa argues that the Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim per the standards set forth under two recently decided U.S. Supreme Court cases.  In Bell Atlantic Corp.. v. Twombly (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009), the U.S. Supreme Court heightened the pleading requirement for Federal civil cases.  The rules require that plaintiffs include enough facts in its complaint to make it plausible that they will be able to prove facts to support its claims.

The Twombly case is relevant here since it was an Antitrust case in which the court dismissed Plaintiffs Complaint citing that the pleading did not allege sufficient facts for the court to determine that there was anti-competitive behavior in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.  Iqbal reaffirmed the test announced in Twombly which was that a federal complaint may be dismissed if the court can “identify and disregard naked assertions and conclusory allegations, and then determine where the factual context presented by the remaining specific allegations plausibly suggest the defendant is liable under the relevant law.”

What this all means is that Zuffa is claiming that the Complaint(s) do not have sufficient facts to prove its claim that Zuffa violated Antitrust laws.  While we will not go into the specifics of the motion, it is meticulous in going through plaintiffs’ Complaint and identifying each paragraph in which it believes it is mere allegations and/or conclusory statement.

Payout Perspective:

This appears to be standard litigation playbook stuff from Zuffa.  First, it filed a motion to transfer venue seeking to move the case to Las Vegas.  Instead of responding to the Complaint in affirming or denying the allegations, it has filed a motion to dismiss.  There are at least three things that might occur from this filing.  First, the plaintiffs may amend its Complaint to be more specific in its allegations.  Second, the plaintiffs may refile its Complaint so that it conforms to the rules (i.e., provide more specific facts of its allegations).  Or, respond to the Motion to Dismiss.  The legal requirements for filing Complaints in federal court differ due to the Supreme Court cases.  Essentially, the federal rules are stricter than lawsuits filed in state courts (in state courts pleadings can allege “Upon information and belief…”, but you can’t get away with that in federal courts) due to the case law which seem to require more factual detail in allegations.  Obviously, there is risk in providing specific details in Complaints.  If the factual allegation proves not to be true or cannot be proven, you will have the allegation dismissed or end up losing.

MMA Payout will keep you posted on these developments.

2 Responses to “Zuffa files Motion to Dismiss in Antitrust lawsuits”

  1. saldathief on March 2nd, 2015 6:59 PM

    Zuffa will drag this out for 5 or 10 years if they can, unfortunately it will be a turd in their swimming pool because no one will buy the UFC from them until this is cleared up. As it moves forward, any possible investors and even sponsors will sit out. I say they try to settle out of court for an undisclosed amount because Zuffa is a half ass bunch of coward liars who can’t stand to let anyone see what crooks and deceivers they really are. haha they must be crapping in their silk underwear!!

  2. Lonny the MMA Mad Man on April 4th, 2015 8:35 PM

    More lawsuits from money hungry crooks. They should’ve stayed out of the fight game. Whining ass pussies!

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