15 for 15: No. 7 – UFC’s legal battle in New York

December 27, 2015

The lawsuit filed by the UFC, its contracted fighters and others seeking to overturn the law prohibiting MMA in the state seemingly came to an end in March when Judge Kimba Wood dismissed the remaining claims against the state of New York.  However, that was not it for the legal maneuverings for the UFC in the state.

The UFC subsequently appealed the decision and retained former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement and his firm to handle the appeal before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  Clement also is known as the attorney working on the NFL Deflategate litigation.

Last month, the state of New York filed its response to the UFC’s appeal brief.  The UFC filed its reply and requested oral argument.  If granted, the oral argument should take place sometime in 2016.

The issues in question deal with whether the law banning pro MMA in the state violates the First Amendment and whether the law is unconstitutionally vague.  The First Amendment issue presents an interesting issue as we have delved into its implications.

Not only does the UFC have an appeal, in September in filed another lawsuit in federal court in New York seeking an injunction to hold an event in New York’s Madison Square Garden this April.  The new lawsuit takes heed to the words written by Judge Wood in its opinion dismissing the original lawsuit earlier in the year.

Kimba Wood opinion

The one issue which has been brought up during the litigation by the state of New York was that the case should be decided by a state court.  The state of New York does not buy the UFC’s argument that it would be harmed if it does not hold UFC 198 at MSG.  Rather, it states that the UFC still does not have legal “standing” in the state even though it has signed a “conditional agreement” with MSG.  Among its arguments opposing the grant of a preliminary injunction, New York argues that a state court should decide the law regarding the constitutionality of the law.  It also claims that the deposit for MSG would be refunded to the UFC if it coincided with an NBA or NHL playoff game stating that the Knicks or Rangers would trump the UFC event.

The lawsuit filed this past September by the UFC requests a preliminary injunction which would allow for the UFC to hold an event in New York despite the existing law preventing pro MMA in the state.

In 2016, we should see a resolution to the preliminary injunction and whether or not UFC 198 will be in Madison Square Garden or not.

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