The UFC and NFL took down Deadspin twitter account Monday

October 13, 2015

The UFC and NFL filed take down notices for copyright infringement against the twitter accounts for the sports web site Deadspin and the Vox Media-owned SB Nation Gif account per CNN Money.  As of Tuesday morning, the Deadspin account had returned to twitter but the SB Nation Gif account remains suspended.

THIRD UPDATE:  The UFC only filed a take down notice against Deadspin and not the SB Nation Gif account per NY Times.

SECOND UPDATE: Per, the UFC specifically took issue with a Deadspin tweet related to Ronda Rousey’s last fight.  One could surmise they played the entire fight from UFC 190 or at least the KO.

UPDATED:  For those wondering, takedown notices are governed under Title II, Section 512 of the DMCA which is found here.

Takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) were issued to both Deadspin and SB Nation for alleged violations of copyright.  Both twitter accounts routinely use GIFs from the NFL and other sports.  Per CNN Money, there were 33 pages of notices filed by NetResult, an Internet copyright monitoring company acting on behalf of the NFL and UFC.

Engadget reports that the takedown list request includes a number of video files from Deadspin’s main account and @SBNationGif.  The requests will be submitted to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse – an independent 3rd party research project studying cease and desist letters concerning online content.

Per ESPN, the NFL and Twitter announced a two-year content and advertising deal that would send more NFL video highlights and pictures from games through Twitter.

Although maybe not a direct correlation, Deadspin has published critical pieces of both the NFL and UFC.  Recently a Josh Gross article about Vitor Belfort received much praise for his investigation that the UFC allowed Belfort to fight despite troubling drug test results pre-fight.  But the article received a scant reply from the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

The take down of both twitter accounts were interesting for the sheer fact of the multitude of followers that use each for news/entertainment and thus it was a noticeable loss on twitter.  It could be just coincidence that Deadspin have published critical articles about the UFC and NFL.  You may also say the same for SB Nation although the use of gifs may be the key to the take downs.  Notably, the UFC has cracked down on gifs of fights in the past.  At a time when the ownership of new technology is still somewhat unsettled, these take downs represent the progression of protection of league rights in media.  MMA Payout will continue to follow.

Silva cites privilege, Anti-SLAPP statute in motion to dismiss UFC defamation claims

October 6, 2015

Bloody Elbow reports that Wanderlei Silva has filed a motion to dismiss the UFC’s defamation lawsuit citing to dismiss the Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a “litigation privilege” and Nevada’s Anti-Slapp Statute.  The hearing is set for November 3rd in state court in Nevada.

The motion to dismiss can be found here.

The lawsuit stems from two Facebook posts and a YouTube video made by the former UFC fighter claiming that the UFC fixes fights.  The UFC sued Silva claiming Defamation Per Se and Business Disparagement.

Silva’s lawyers argue that the UFC cannot show damages from his comments or disprove the comments were false.  They argue that the cause of action for Defamation Per Se relates to individuals and not entities.  Citing that the claim relates to personal reputation and not business reputation, Silva’s lawyers argue that the claim fails.

Next, Silva’s lawyers also state that the UFC fail to state a claim for business disparagement as they fail to properly allege malice.  The elements of business disparagement in Nevada are: 1) a false and disparaging statement, 2) the unprivileged publication by the defendant, 3) malice and 4) special damages.  In this instance, Silva’s lawyers take issue with the Complaint filed by the UFC stating that Silva “published the false statement with malice…” without further explanation.  They also go on to state that the UFC have no facts supporting “Silva published the statement with the intent to cause harm to Zuffa’s pecuniary interests, no facts that allege such pecuniary harm occurred, or facts demonstrating that he knew the statements were false or recklessly disregarded their truth.”  Finally, Silva’s lawyers claim that the UFC failed to show that the statements caused any damages.

Silva’s lawyers then claim that Silva’s statements are privileged under the “litigation privilege.”  In my prior post about this lawsuit, I stated that Silva could not claim a privilege to his statements.  Here, his lawyers state that he is entitled to one based on the fact that “communications [made] in the course of judicial proceedings [even if known to be false] are absolutely privileged.”  Citing the fact that the privilege is deemed broad, Silva’s lawyers state that their client should fit under this umbrella.  Here, Silva’s lawyers claim that his statement were made in lieu of the “NSAC Case” in which he brought a lawsuit for judicial review after being fined and banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and “the Class Action” lawsuit which is in reference to the Antitrust action brought by former UFC fighters.

Finally, Zuffa’s attorney claim that the lawsuit should be dismissed as it violates Nevada’s Anti-Slapp Statute.  SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) allows those sued in defamation or libel cases the opportunity to get the lawsuits thrown out early unless the plaintiff can show a probability of prevailing.  It’s a way of protecting free speech regarding an issue of public concern.  The Anti-SLAPP statute has an expedited procedure in which a party may file a motion to dismiss the complaint under the law and treats it as a motion for summary judgment.  Essentially, it’s an expedited way to dismiss lawsuits that were brought with an ulterior motive to harass those from speaking out.

Payout Perspective:

While there are some salient points here by Silva’s attorneys they seems to latch onto the salacious, to satiate MMA fans, but the motion should focus on the best arguments for dismissal – the UFC Complaint lacks specificity, they cannot prove damages and the Anti-SLAPP statute.  In my opinion, the motion should highlight the argument that the UFC’s Complaint lacks the necessary components necessary for a Complaint.  This is highlighted by the inability to show the proximate cause between Silva’s words and damages.

Frankly, Silva’s statements are defamatory.  Among his statements, he says that the UFC fixes fights which goes to the heart of the company’s business.  However, it seems hard for the UFC to provide necessary evidence that they have or will be damaged as a result of these statements.

Secondly, the “litigation privilege” is not absolute in Nevada.  Statements made to the media during litigation are not protected and can form the basis for a defamation claim according to a recent case.  In Jacobs v. Adelson, the Nevada Supreme Court noted that the purpose of the litigation privilege is to allow parties to speak freely and openly during litigation without the threat of being sued.  But, it only applies during judicial proceedings to statements that relate to the litigation.  While Silva’s statements may not have gone directly to the media, there is the implication from the case that defamatory comments made to outside observers of a lawsuit can potentially form the basis for a defamation claim.

Silva’s case presents an interesting scenario since he was involved in the NSAC case but is not a party to the Antitrust lawsuit.  While his lawyers inferred that he may become a party and has knowledge of the case, he is not an existing part of the action.  Moreover, the statements Silva made that are at issue in the lawsuit occurred at a time when he was not a part of any active lawsuit (the NSAC case was being remanded at the time and he was sued prior to the appeal to the Nevada State Supreme Court).

So, the question is whether the “litigation privilege” extends to statements made outside of a lawsuit and when you are not a party.

The Anti-SLAPP claim is a viable claim brought by Silva’s attorneys.  Notably, some states have brought the statute into question as a violation of the constitutional right of due process in that it negates the opportunity for a fair trial due (Washington State recently struck down a similar law).  However, Nevada’s law is still in use although lawmakers are seeking to amend it concerned with a similar challenge to the constitutionality of the law.   Silva will have to convince a judge that the statements at issue were “a good faith communication” directly connected with a matter of public concern.  Sure, we can argue that fighters’ rights may be a matter of public concern but were the statements “a good faith communication.”?

Even if the UFC is concerned with the lack of specificity with a damages claim and/or the causal relationship between Silva’s statements and damages, it may still seek to amend the Complaint.  But, based on the motion, look for the UFC to win this round and the case to proceed to the discovery phase.

Potential flaw in new UFC lawsuit in New York

October 4, 2015

A new wrinkle may surface in the quest to legalize professional MMA in New York.  With a new lawsuit filed by the UFC, a preliminary injunction request filed to hold an event this April, a nuanced detail may trip up the legal strategy.

In its new court filings, the UFC indicates that it has licensed with the World Kickboxing Association (“WKA”) to hold the event in April.  The WKA is an exempt organization under the Combat Sports Law (“CSL”) which bans the sport in the state.  As an exempt organization under the law, it may promote events notwithstanding the law.  Basically, it may hold an event in the state despite the ban.

As indicated by Jim Genia, if a law legalizing professional MMA is passed in Albany prior to an anticipated UFC at MSG this April, the UFC may have some issues.  The reason being is that if the law banning professional MMA in the state is repealed, the exempt organization carve out allowing organizations, such as the WKA to sanction events will also fall by the waysideIf this happens, the UFC’s event in April may be in trouble since the UFC has stated that it is working with WKA to sanction the event.

The legislative session begins in January and there is no way to know when, or even if, an MMA bill legalizing the sport and/or repealing the ban will ever matriculate its way through the various committees, state senate and eventually to the state Assembly for a vote.  If it finds its way to the Governor’s desk for signing, the UFC may have a problem.

Payout Perspective:

There are two big “ifs’ here (among other questions).

  1. The UFC must pass a hurdle of getting the court to grant its preliminary injunction request.  Look for stern opposition from the state of New York and an appeal if it loses.  The big news on this, is that if an appeal occurs, there may be a stay in the lawsuit until the appeal is heard.  Thus, it would freeze the new lawsuit until resolution from the Court.  Something like that could take us past the UFC’s intended April event date.
  2. If the UFC wins its preliminary injunction (and for some reason there is no appeal and/or resolves in the UFC’s favor), the MMA law in Albany would have to get through before the UFC’s April 23, 2016 date at MSG.

Let’s face it.  I don’t bank on a law passing prior to April 23rd based on what we’ve seen in recent years from New York lawmakers.  MMA supporters have waited for a law to pass legalizing MMA in the state.  The past several years we’ve waited and waited until the final days of the legislative session in June for a vote in the state assembly (the last hurdle before reaching the governor’s desk).  Yet, none has occurred.  Even if a law is passed this year, I doubt it occurs prior to April’s UFC event.

I would suspect that if the UFC wins its preliminary injunction (and any appeal that might occur), it may ask pro-MMA supporters within the legislature (and its lobbyists) to push an MMA bill, but have it occur after the April event.  In the alternative, they could always request the UFC be grandfathered into the MMA law.  Essentially, allowing the WKA to sanction the event but after the event, the MMA law would come into effect.  This assumes that the legal process is swift, which it is not.

First things first, a court will consider the UFC’s preliminary injunction request and at some point the UFC must win for an April event to happen.

The reason for the new UFC-NY lawsuit

September 30, 2015

The UFC surprised many with another lawsuit in federal court in New York challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban on professional MMA.  This time, the UFC is seeking a preliminary injunction to hold an event in the state this April.

The news of a new lawsuit comes when the original lawsuit is in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  Paul Clement, the renowned appellate lawyer and former U.S. Solicitor General is representing Zuffa and filed their appeal brief this past August. New York’s response is set for the beginning of November.

But perhaps the road map for the lawsuit filed this week was provided by Judge Kimba Wood, the trial court judge that dismissed Zuffa’s case.

In deciding to dismiss Zuffa’s case, it offered the following in its conclusion (click to enlarge):

Kimba Wood opinion

The opinion is mere “dicta” meaning that Judge Wood’s suggestion is not law or precedent which others may cite as guiding authority. Yet, it created the opportunity for the UFC to open up another line of action in attempting hold an event in New York.

Unlike the November 2011 lawsuit, the UFC is the only plaintiff. The UFC focuses on the claim that the New York law, the Combative Sport Law (“CSL”), violates due process rights as it is unconstitutionally vague as to its application.

UFC Complaint p10

The UFC points out that the CSL exempts “martial arts” from its ban stating that “martial arts shall include any professional match or exhibition sanctioned by any” of the organizations listed in the statute.

It notes in the Complaint that “standing,” the right to bring an action in the court, “could not be clearer.” This directly addresses the previous lawsuit in which Judge Wood determined that there was no standing due to the fact that the UFC had not suffered injury and did not contact a promoter to hold an event in New York. In its Complaint, it now states that it is working with WKA.

Screenshot 2015-09-30 17.27.53

Based on setting a UFC event for April 2016, the UFC states that it will lose “millions of dollars in ticket sales.”  It also will lose a source of marketing for its UFC-branded gyms in New York, as well as for the DVDs, consumer products, video games and other products that it sells.

Notably, the UFC indicates that it has “lost sponsorships and has suffered reputational damage around the world because of its inability to hold professional MMA events in New York.”  It will be interesting to see what evidence it may bring to prove these allegations if it comes to that point.

The UFC Complaint cites the differences from the beginnings of the CSL indicating that the legislature was concerned with “no-holds-barred fighting.” In her opinion Judge Wood states “MMA has changed substantially since the Ban was enacted.”  This provides some guidance as to what a court may decide with respect to the CSL.

Payout Perspective:

It’s clear that the roadmap was provided by Judge Wood for this lawsuit with the exception that it has filed the lawsuit in federal court as opposed to state court as suggested in her opinion. The lawsuit is premised upon the determination by the prior court as this filing is tighter and a shorter (only 37 pages as opposed to 100 plus pages) complaint. It appears that there is a better chance for the UFC in this lawsuit although you should expect stiff opposition from New York. The state will likely argue what it did in the prior lawsuit which is that laws need not change over time.  And despite the change within the sport of MMA, it will focus on the intent of the law with its primary purpose to ban MMA.

UFC files preliminary injunction in New York case

September 30, 2015

The UFC filed its motion for preliminary injunction on Tuesday.  It argues that the UFC is likely to prevail on its claim and should be granted the injunction to hold its event at Madison Square Garden this April.  Notably, it has already spent a non-refundable $25,000 for the anticipated event in April.

No hearing date has been set and we’ll likely see opposition from New York.

Similar to its complaint filed on Monday, it stresses the contention that the statute banning professional MMA in the state is inherently vague.

“Much of the law’s problems stem from its failure to explain with any reasonable degree of clarity what exactly a “combative sport” is,” reads the moving papers submitted by the UFC.  “Rather than define the term expressly, the statue attempts to reverse engineer a definition by exempting from its prohibitions certain sports, including “martial arts.””

Again the UFC stresses its belief that any issues on standing are now answered: “Whatever uncertainty may have existed on the matter in the past, it is now crystal clear that the estate interprets the law to prohibit Plaintiff from doing so.”

The UFC utilizes deposition from the Jones v. Schneiderman lawsuit to provide evidence that even NY officials provided contrary testimony to how they interpreted the statute.

In addition, the UFC notes that it has contracted with the World Kickboxing Organization, an “exempt organization” allowed to hold events in the states.  The motion states, “To eliminate any potential concerns about the imminence of its injury, Plaintiff has contracted to host a live professional MMA event sanctioned by an Exempt Organization.”

It also indicates that it has committed $25,000 as a non-refundable deposit and stands to lose millions of dollars in ticket sales and media revenue.

As we’ve learned from previous injunction requests in MMA, there are hurdles the injunction-seeker must prove that “the probability of his prevailing is better than fifty percent.”

  1. “a likelihood of success on the merits [of the lawsuit],”’
  2. That it will suffer “irreparable harm” with a preliminary injunction, and
  3. “that a preliminary injunction is in the public interest.”

We should also note that the UFC also challenges NY Liquor Law as it did in the November 2011 lawsuit as that law mirrors the Combative Sports Law (or “CSL” as it is referred to in the pleadings).

Payout Perspective:

This will be an interesting, and an important injunction for the UFC in its fight to hold an event in New York.  I believe that the first element, “likelihood of success on the merits,” is the biggest hurdle for the UFC.  Obviously, the monetary investment in holding an event reflects the “irreparable harm.”  You can argue the “public interest” element.  Despite the ban, and the inability to get a law passed in Albany to legalize MMA, there is still a lot of support for the sport in the state.  The “likelihood of success” could be a toss-up and based on the court’s interpretation of the CSL ban.

Jon Jones avoids jail time in plea deal from April incident

September 29, 2015

Jon Jones appeared in a Albuquerque, New Mexico courtroom today regarding last April’s hit and run accident which injured a pregnant woman.  Jones will not receive any jail time as part of a plea agreement.

Jones agreed to plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing great bodily harm.  He will serve community service hours and be placed on 18 months probation.  The plea agreement was made in part due to the fact that Jones had no prior felony convictions.

The penalty for Jones’ charge carries a jail sentence of not more than 18 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine followed by one year on parole.  Jones will avoid this if he abides by the terms of the plea deal.

Via the District Attorney News Release:

On September 29, 2015 Jones entered into a Pre-Indictment Plea with the State of New Mexico pleading Guilty to Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Great Bodily Harm), a fourth degree felony offense.  He was granted a Conditional Discharge, and ordered to serve a term of up to 18 months on Supervised Probation.

Appearing in court, Jones apologized and stated he accepts full responsibiulity for his actions.  Jones was ordered to complete 72 appearances, one for each of the 72 weeks in the 18 month Probation period.  Second Judicial District Court Judge Charlie Brown ordered those appearances should be at local martial arts academies, grade schools, and middle schools.  There, Jones will speak with Bernalillo County children about the importance of making good choices and how oine wrong decision can ruin everything for which they work so hard.

Jones offered an official statement expressing regret for his actions:

With regards to today’s decision made by the court, I am very happy to now be able to put this incident behind me. My actions have caused pain and inconvenience in the lives of others and for that I am truly sorry and I accept full responsibility. I have been working hard during this time away from my sport to grow and mature as a man and to ensure that nothing like this happens again. I have learned a great deal from this situation and I am determined to emerge a better person because of it. I apologize to those who were affected by my actions in this incident and I am hopeful that I will be given the opportunity to redeem myself in the eyes of the public, my family and friends as well as my supporters. I am not sure what the future holds for me but I plan to continue to do the work needed to be productive and successful in every aspect of my life. “

Dana White was present in the courtroom during the hearing.  The UFC offered its own statement (via MMA Fighting) in which it indicated that Jones was still suspended but their law firm would review the plea prior to a possible reinstatement.

The UFC organization is aware that Jon Jones reached a plea agreement with authorities in Albuquerque, New Mexico this morning stemming from charges associated with a motor vehicle accident earlier this year. As a result, UFC, through Las Vegas-based law firm Campbell & Williams, will thoroughly review the agreement before discussing Jones’ possible reinstatement to return to competition.

More information will be made available following completion of this review.

Payout Perspective:

This is likely the best outcome for Jones and the UFC.  Jones avoids any jail time (subject to following the terms of the plea agreement) and the UFC will likely reinstate him.  With this being Jones’ first offense and no major injuries from the accident, no jail time was a likely result.  White being in the courtroom was no surprise.  Despite the suspension, Jones is a vital part of the company’s success.

UFC announces April 2016 event in New York but it hinges on new lawsuit

September 28, 2015

The UFC has announced per press release that it is filing a new lawsuit in federal court in New York once again challenging the legislative ban on professional MMA in the state.  In a show of confidence, it has also scheduled an event on April 23, 2016 in New York’s Madison Square Garden assuming that the court will grant a preliminary injunction.

Via UFC press release:

“We believe fight fans have waited long enough to experience live UFC events in the state of New York and we are thrilled to announce our first event at Madison Square Garden,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “Professional MMA is legal around of the world and it is about time New York followed suit.”

In August, UFC filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit – the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over New York – stating that New York’s prohibition of regulated professional MMA events violates the First Amendment rights of athletes and fans throughout the state.

On September 28, UFC filed a new case in federal court, reiterating its claim that the New York law banning MMA events is unconstitutional.  This out-of-date law is too unclear for the public to understand, and has allowed regulators in New York to pick and choose arbitrarily what events they will permit.  Events featuring every combat sport except MMA seem to be allowed in New York, though this is not explicitly stated in the law.  The statute, and the state’s pattern of enforcing it, violates the Constitution’s prohibition on unconstitutionally vague laws.

Later this week, UFC will ask a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction against New York state officials enforcing its unconstitutional law. Without such an injunction, the event at Madison Square Garden will not be able to proceed.

The appeal by the UFC of its original lawsuit against New York filed in November 2011 is still ongoing with Paul Clement filing a brief on behalf of the UFC in early August and the state set to file its brief at the beginning of November.  The lawsuit filed by the UFC today looks to be different than the appeal currently pending.

A preliminary injunction seeks equitable relief (as opposed to monetary damages) from a court prior to a final determination of the merits.  A key distinction here for the UFC to get an event in New York by this spring.

In general the factors determining whether a court will grant a preliminary injunction are:

  1. The substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case;
  2. The party seeking the injunction faces a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted;
  3. The threat is immediate;
  4. The balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction;
  5. There is no other available remedy;
  6. The grant of an injunction would serve the public interest.

Notably, MMA has seen its share of preliminary injunctions recently.  Eddie Alvarez sought a preliminary injunction in a New Jersey state court case when he sought to be released from Bellator to fight in the UFC.  He lost.  However, as we now know, he made it to the UFC.

Bellator MMA filed a preliminary injunction in New Jersey attempting to prevent Rampage Jackson from fighting at UFC 186.  The trial court granted the injunction but the state appellate court overturned the injunction and allowed Jackson to fight at UFC 186.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a risky gamble by the UFC.  Before the event can even happen in April, the court must grant a preliminary injunction to allow the company to hold it.  Thus, the UFC could be out a lot of money.  But that’s the strategy.  Planning the event in April will shows there’s a “threat of irreparable damage,” it is “immediate” and “would serve the public interest.”  Thus, three of the requisite 6 factors (possibly more) to grant a preliminary injunction would be satisfied.  The legal strategy seems to hang on the opinion which dismissed the original lawsuit as Judge Kimba Wood seemed to entertain the argument that the statute banning professional MMA was vague but since no event actually occurred in the state, there was no harm.  Judge Wood stated that Zuffa could not establish “injury in fact.”  However, in what probably precipitated this new effort, Judge Wood indicated that it might have a claim based on events occurring after the filing of the November 2011 lawsuit.  But, Judge Wood stated that a re-filing likely would be better if it was in state court.  According to the press release, the new lawsuit is in federal court.

We have not seen the lawsuit as since it was filed today, it is still not up on Pacer.  MMA Payout will keep you posted

Judge denies UFC’s Motion to Dismiss antitrust lawsuit

September 26, 2015

Judge Richard Boulware denied UFC’s Motion to Dismiss the antitrust lawsuit brought by former UFC fighters at a hearing in the U.S. District Court of Nevada Friday.  The lawsuit will continue with the parties hammering out a process to conduct discovery.

The UFC provided a statement after the Friday afternoon hearing:

The United States District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada held a hearing on UFC’s motion to dismiss today.  The Court correctly explained that on a motion to dismiss it must consider all the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and the complaint must be liberally construed in favor of the plaintiffs.  Using that standard, the Court denied the motion to dismiss.  As we have consistently stated, UFC competes in a lawful manner that benefits athletes around the world and has created a premier organization in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).  We look forward to proving that the allegations in the complaint are meritless.

BE’s Paul Gift provided a running commentary on the courtroom arguments.  As the moving party (i.e., UFC’s motion to dismiss), it was the UFC’s burden to prove that the plaintiffs’ motion failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted.

Almost in anticipation that the motion would be denied, the parties filed a Joint Status Report on Friday which outlines the status of the case.  There’s no trial date as of yet as the parties continue to map out discovery which will probably entail a voluminous amount of documents.  It appears that the parties will quarrel over the amount of information to be produced (a standard that occurs in almost every lawsuit).

Payout Perspective:

Good news for the plaintiffs but not a monumental loss for the UFC.  Although people watching this case may see the court’s denial of the motion to dismiss as a huge precedent victory, the plaintiffs are not out of the woods yet.  As we’ve discussed (and maybe someone actually reading this has followed), the Motion to Dismiss was just a standard part of the litigation playbook.  Thus far, the UFC has succeeded in transferring the case to Vegas and the parties are grappling over discovery issues.  At some point, the UFC will once again attempt to dismiss the case on a Motion for Summary Judgment.

But, the plaintiffs will get a chance to probe UFC documents and potentially depose some UFC officials.  This may reveal some information that may help their case as well as paint the UFC in a bad light.  We shall see.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Hearing Friday could decide Zuffa Antitrust case

September 24, 2015

The Zuffa Antitrust lawsuit may come to a head tomorrow as a federal court in Nevada will hear Zuffa’s Motion to Dismiss which could end the lawsuit brought by former UFC fighters against the organization.

The Motion to Dismiss was filed by Zuffa lawyers when the lawsuit was venued in Northern California.  The original date for the Motion to Dismiss was in late July.  However, when the federal court in San Jose transferred the case to Las Vegas, the dates were continued.

A summary of pleadings are below:

Zuffa’s Motion to Dismiss

Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Zuffa’s Motion to Dismiss

Zuffa’s Reply Brief

However, if you want to read them in full, you can find them here as well:

Zuffa Motion to Dismiss

Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Reply Brief – Motion to Dismiss

Payout Perspective:

It’s hard to fathom that Judge Richard Boulware, the presiding judge assigned to the case in Nevada, will dismiss this lawsuit.  More likely, if Judge Boulware determines that the Complaint filed by the former UFC fighters is insufficient, he may allow them to “Leave to Amend the Complaint.”  Essentially, he would grant them time to amend their complaint so that it would conform to the rules outlined in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal.  With a discovery fight over the documents on the horizon, we could see the court allowing the lawsuit to continue so that the Plaintiffs will have an opportunity to make their case.  It would still leave open the opportunity for Zuffa to file a Motion for Summary Judgment which would dismiss the case short of having to go to trial.  Of course, this would mean time and expense for Zuffa’s lawyers as they hope to do away with the lawsuit through this motion.  In the end, even if the court were to flat out dismiss the plaintiffs, they would still have an opportunity to appeal the decision.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Haymon-Golden Boy lawsuit to proceed in federal court

September 18, 2015

Golden Boy Promotions won a round against Al Haymon in court earlier this week as Judge John Walter denied Haymon’s motion to stay the court action to arbitrate the issues before the court.  As a result, the case will proceed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The Court chided Haymon’s attorneys as on September 1st, Arbitrator Daniel Weinstein determined that Golden Boy’s claims related to events post-January 1, 2015 were not within the scope of the arbitration provision signed by the parties in the lawsuit.  Thus, while a portion of the claims presented in Golden Boy’s lawsuit may have been subject to an underlying arbitration agreement, some claims, namely the Antitrust claims were not subject to arbitration.  The Arbitrator also ruled that Bernard Hopkins, another plaintiff in the lawsuit, might not be subject to the Arbitration agreement and indicated further discovery was needed to determine this issue.

Some background from our July 8th post on this issue:

According to court documents, the Settlement Agreement was signed by the parties (including Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya) on December 18-19, 2014 and exercised by Haymon on January 8, 2015.  According to Haymon, it was a “global” settlement of all issues between the parties.  Haymon made “a substantial payment to Golden Boy” which Golden Boy accepted when the parties decided to end its business relationship.  The Settlement includes an arbitration provision which would require that the parties be subject to an Arbitrator rather than litigate the matter in court.

The Arbitrator evaluated briefing from both parties on the jurisdiction issue and the settlement agreement and on September 1st decided that it did not have jurisdiction over the federal claims.

Order on Motion to Stay

Judge Walter was upset with the persistence of the defendants.

In his order, Judge Walter stated, “[a]lthough the Court was confident that Defendants’ counsel would realize that the Mtion was now moot and withdraw it to avoid wasting judicial resources, counsel made the puzzling decision to pursue the Motion and patently frivolous arguments in the Reply [brief].”

Judge Walter denied the motion as moot.

To compare rulings on this issue:  The Arbitrator’s order was 17 pages long whereas the Judge’s order was just 2.

It appears that the sides will actually be dealing with an arbitration occurring at the same time as a lawsuit.

Payout Perspective:

Now comes the interesting part of the lawsuit as discovery should now commence (it was previously stayed pending the determination of the motion).  Dependent on how much information is kept confidential, we might see the emergence of Al Haymon (at a deposition) and piece together the inner workings of PBC and his business strategy.  While it’s not out of the ordinary for one side to push the envelope in trying a motion (knowing the likelihood it will be denied), it’s a not a good look when the judge calls you out on wasting their time.  Certainly, not a good start for Haymon’s attorneys in this case.

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