Update on Wilder-Povetkin lawsuit includes more discovery fights
November 17, 2016
Attorneys for Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin continue to joust in letters in the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York. A February 2017 trial date may be nixed due to issues related to finalization of a protective order to iron-out discovery issues.
After a discovery conference, last week, the parties continue to dispute the contents of the order with the court.
The discovery fight centers around a number of issues. One is related to text and direct messages from the phones of Wilder and promoter Lou DiBella. Notably, attorneys for DiBella state that his phone was destroyed in a hot tub over 4th of July weekend. They indicate there are no responsive texts or direct messages from Wilder’s phone.
Attorneys for Povetkin and his promoter, World of Boxing, requests information concerning an injury suffered by Wilder in July 2016. The heavyweight champion’s attorney objected to the request citing it as not relevant and likely the believe that such production of information (if any) would not lead to discoverable information.
From the court record, it appears that the parties are seeking to fast-track the case to trial with little, if any motions, in the case. However, attorneys for Wilder filed a Motion to Disqualify the attorneys for Povetkin. The Motion was then withdrawn by Wilder’s attorneys. Despite the withdrawal, they cautioned attorneys for Povetkin that they would be violating professional responsibilities if they did not withdraw as trial counsel. The crux of the issue relates to two of the attorneys of record involved in the contract negotiations for the Wilder-Povetkin fight. The motion sought to disqualify the attorneys as well as bar them from potentially depose the attorney that they were involved in negotiations.
The lawsuit arises out of a cancelled fight and money sitting in an escrow account. Wilder was set to face Povetkin in Russia in May 2016. A contract was agreed to which included clauses that put over $4.3 million (a portion of payouts for fighters, as well as administrative fees, etc.) into an escrow account as well as a liquidated damages provision of $2.5 million for breach of contract. It was discovered that Povetkin tested positive for the use of Meldonium which Wilder believe cancelled the fight. As a result, he did not travel to Russia for a fight he did not believe would take place. Povetkin’s camp claim breach of the fight agreement since the governing body had to cancel due to Wilder not showing up in Russia. In addition, they claim that they should be entitled to their share of the purse in the Escrow account however, Wilder’s side has prevented the money from being disbursed without a court order.
The discovery fight is not new to many litigation attorneys. The trial judge will need to sort out the situation and allow time for the parties to obtain the information they believe they need to go to trial. It does seem like this case will go to trial although litigation is a game of chicken to see who concedes first.