Did Dana White inadvertently help Michael Chiesa’s lawsuit against Conor McGregor?

December 23, 2018

The attorney for UFC welterweight Michael Chiesa filed an Amended Complaint earlier this week in his lawsuit against Conor McGregor. In this amended version, Chiesa cites New York’s “Son of Sam” Law which states that McGregor should not be able to benefit from his crime.

Chiesa is suing McGregor (technically his company) and the Barclay’s Center for the April 5, 2018 incident in which he threw a dolly at the bus carrying several UFC fighters including Chiesa and Khabib Nurmogomedov. As a result of McGregor’s action, Chiesa was bloodied from shattered glass and had to be taken off the card. According to the amended complaint filed on December 20th, Chiesa was to be offered the opening spot against Khabib Nurmogomedov but for his injury. Chiesa claims that when Max Holloway was unable to fight, a UFC executive texted him about the possibility. Its presumed that the text was sent prior to knowledge of Chiesa’s health status and that he would have taken the fight.

The “Son of Sam” law in New York was made to prevent criminals from profiting from the publicity of their crimes. The law was named after serial killer David Berkowitz, known as “Son of Sam,” gained fame in the mid-1970s for his crimes. There was widespread speculation that Berkowitz would profit from his murders by selling his story to be made for a book or film. As a result, New York passed a law preventing someone from profiting from their crimes.

McGregor was charged with multiple crimes and while he was acquitted of his wrongdoings, Chiesa claims that the law would apply since the law relates to those charged of crimes.

Here, Chiesa is claiming that McGregor has made money off of this incident. The complaint notes McGregor selling his whiskey, “Proper 21,” during his UFC 229 press conference. Also, included in the lawsuit, was McGregor’s quote from the press conference that he knew that he was going to go after Khabib that day. There is also the use of the footage to build UFC 229 and Dana White’s proclamation that his use of it was part of the story and build for the fight.

518314 2018 Michael Chiesa … by on Scribd

UFC 229 was the highest-grossing PPV in the company’s history with a reported 2.4 million buys.

Chiesa’s amendment to his lawsuit, if agreed by the trier of fact, would mean that he could feasibly claim McGregor’s part of his reported earning from UFC 229 and/or sales from Proper 21.  While its not clear how the law would apply and if there would be a disgorgement (giving up the money) of profits by McGregor, it puts the welterweight with an interesting legal argument.

Payout Perspective:

It’s an ingenious strategy to utilize the “Son of Sam” law here especially when Dana White was adamant that they utilize the bus footage in its build for what became the biggest PPV in the history of the UFC.  McGregor sold “Proper 12” at the pre-fight press conference and a lot of conversation surrounded the April incident at Barclay’s.  While McGregor may claim that the press built this up themselves, we have White explicitly stating his reasons to promote the attack.  Thus, it was generated by McGregor’s actions and facilitated by the UFC.  It will be interesting to see if McGregor blames the UFC for its use of the footage or not.

McGregor’s attorneys had filed a motion to dismiss certain claims including Chiesa’s claims for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  With the amendment of his lawsuit, this may make McGregor’s attorneys have to retool its motion to dismiss as one might assume that the new claim regarding the Son of Sam law would likely be addressed in a motion to dismiss by McGregor.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

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