February 23, 2017
On Wednesday, Bellator filed a Motion to Quash a Subpoena served on it by the UFC in its antitrust lawsuit filed in Nevada. MMA Payout has obtained the documents related to the motion to quash.
Bellator is not a party to the lawsuit. There is no date set for the hearing. Since the pleading was filed in California, it’s not known at this point whether Zuffa will make Bellator file in Nevada or make an appearance in California.
The motion essentially is a court order relieving Bellator of its duties under the UFC-issued subpoena.
The requests are outlined by Bellator in its motion. It made attempts to compromise by providing certain information but the UFC would not do it.
The filing includes a Declaration of Scott Coker. In the 8 page Declaration he states that the reasons why Bellator cannot provide the requested information to Zuffa.
Notably, he states that providing athlete contract information, competitors would be able to anticipate Bellator’s recruitment strategies. Also, “[d]isclosure of Bellator’s fighter contracts to the Plaintiffs…and to other MMA athletes would place Bellator at a grave competitive disadvantage in its negotiations with athletes. With comprehensive knowledge of Bellator’s existing deals, price points, negotiating tactics, and business development priorities, athletes and their management would have more leverage to drive their own desired deal terms and precipitate disputes among athletes already under contract.”
This is the general dealing in discovery fights. The subpoena request is broad, the one producing the documents wants to limit, while the requester always wants more information. The Motion to Quash is the relief that Bellator has to avoid the subpoena in order to not be in violation. From Bellator’s perspective, it does not want to release the information as the UFC and other competing organizations can use it in the future. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
February 22, 2017
Bellator has sued Zuffa in federal court in California to prevent the UFC from obtaining key financial and contract information on fighters in its possession. The Viacom-owned company is seeking to quash the subpoenas served by the UFC to obtain information that is part of the antitrust lawsuit it is involved with former fighters.
The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District for the Central District of California. The antitrust lawsuit’s current venue is in Nevada federal court.
Bellator claims that it has already “produced in excess of two thousand pages of responsive documents” related to the lawsuit. It argues that the UFC’s request for additional information seeks confidential information, seek trade secret and other sensitive information.
This was an obvious result from the discovery in this lawsuit. It was clear that the UFC or Plaintiffs would request information on contracts and finances from its biggest competitor. It was also clear that Bellator would not provide this information. It does appear that Bellator has complied to a certain extent. The UFC will likely say that some (maybe most) of the information provided by Bellator was irrelevant and a document dump and it has not provided the information provided in its subpoena requests. With Bellator intervening, the process for the Le plaintiffs to go to trial will take much longer due to the fight over documents.
MMA Payout will have more in the next day.
February 14, 2017
Brock Lesnar has retired from the UFC according to multiple reports and first reported at MMA Fighting. Lesnar notified the company on Tuesday.
Lesnar was serving a 1 year suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission and USADA. If he returns to MMA, he will have to serve the rest of the suspension.
The suspension was issued after Lesnar settled with the NSAC and USADA issued a 1 year suspension for failing an out-of-competition test and an in-competition test for UFC 200 this past July.
In addition to the suspension, he was fined $250,000 which is 10% of his reported $2.5 million purse for his win over Mark Hunt. Currently, Hunt has filed a lawsuit against Lesnar, Dana White and the UFC.
Lesnar is scheduled to appear at Wrestlemania on April 2nd.
With Lesnar retiring for the second time (his first was after his loss to Cain Velasquez after UFC 121) in the UFC, it means that he will no longer be tested by USADA and included in the UFC Anti-Doping Program. We shall see if Lesnar will decide to return but if he does its likely he will be tested heavily by USADA and given no waiver.
February 13, 2017
The U.S. Magistrate in the Hunt v. Zuffa, LLC, et al. case has granted Mark Hunt’s request to seal documents in his lawsuit. The ruling means that the general public will not be able to view certain documents.
The purpose of the seal according to plaintiff as noted in the order was to “allow him [Hunt] to proceed with this action while not violating the confidentiality agreement.”
When Hunt filed his lawsuit, certain exhibits attached were not included as he was requesting to file them under seal. He claims that he signed a confidentiality agreement and filing the documents without a request to seal might be a violation of the agreement.
What the order means is that the public will not be able to see certain contracts Hunt entered into with Zuffa, LLC. This is unfortunate for the public as it would show what type of contract Hunt signed to fight Lesnar as well as other agreements he had with the company.
February 6, 2017
World of Boxing has submitted a rebuttal expert to address the additional “raw data” supplied by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory.
The report is from Biochemist Dr. Douwe de Boer. Dr. de Boer reviewed the information including the rebuttal expert report from Wilder’s expert. Importantly, it includes review of Povetkin’s VADA urine drug tests from April 8,9, 10 and 27th.
The sole issue at trial is whether Alexander Povetkin took Meldonium post-January 1, 2016. Wilder claims he did. Povetkin argues that the finding of Meldonium occurred in 2015 prior to the WADA ban.
The anticipated theory of the case is that the negative drug tests of April 8-10 and the positive drug test of April 27th for Meldonium show that Povetkin took the drug after his April 10 test.
However, Dr. de Boer concludes that “the so-called “negative” results for Meldonium in some of the urine samples collected does not mean that no Meldonium is present.” He asserts that a possible concentration was “sometimes below” the limit to detect it. He claims that some of the samples were “not negative,” but merely “not adverse.” He concludes that based on the low values “of a logical pharmacokinetic profile, its unlikely Povetkin took Meldonium post-April 11.
So, it will be a battle of experts at trial. Dr. de Boer suggests that Povetkin had Meldonium in his system from his physician prescribed use prior to the WADA ban. But, the tests that revealed it to be negative actually had Meldonium in them. Thus, Povetkin’s expert argues that there would be no inconsistency in the tests as the Meldonium that showed up in the April 27 test was not new. We should see how this theory plays out this week.
February 6, 2017
James Quinn, the lawyer for Georges St. Pierre and MMAAA, has moved from to boutique litigation firm Berg & Androphy per Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal. Quinn has left Weil Gotschal where he worked for more than 40 years.
According to Mullen, Quinn also will open a consulting practice entitled J.W. Quinn ADR.
Per his new firm’s press release, Quinn will continue to work with Weil on MMAAA.
Quinn also served as the lawyer for GSP in his negotiations with the UFC. Those negotiations reached an impasse last year.
Quinn’s former law firm, Weil, has a mandatory retirement age of 68. Quinn, 71, received a waiver to continue at the firm. He now is moving on and will continue to work “in tandem” with Weil on advising MMAAA per a release from his new firm.
It is not uncommon for law firms to have a mandatory retirement age. This is typically an issue related to malpractice. It does seem like opening a consulting practice means he is slowly winding down the full-time practice of law. Yet, Quinn appears to be continuing to work with MMAAA and GSP.
February 6, 2017
We will have to wait until the end of the month to see the response the UFC and Dana White will provide to Mark Hunt’s lawsuit. The parties agreed to extend the time for the UFC and White to respond according to a legal filing on Friday.
According to the stipulation, the UFC and White will provide a joint response to the lawsuit filed by Hunt last month. The UFC Heavyweight sued the company, White and Brock Lesnar as it relates to his fight at UFC 200 this past July. Among the claims, filed in federal court in Nevada, breach of contract, RICO violations and negligence.
The stipulation is below. The UFC and White has until February 28, 2017 to provide a response.
The stipulation notes that White had yet to be personally served (a requisite in lawsuits), but will accept service based on his attorneys receiving the lawsuit. It also notes that the UFC and White will share one response. This means that Lesnar will need his own attorneys and has yet to respond.
The stipulation only applies to the UFC and White which means that Lesnar has until tomorrow to respond if he was personally served the lawsuit. Lesnar could seek an extension to respond as well. Note, the term “respond” as the UFC and White may file a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit. The rules state that they can do this prior to filing an Answer. You can expect this to happen and the extension of time may provide them more time to do this. In the alternative, the extra time may mean they want to either negotiate with Hunt and/or file a response with counterclaims.
February 4, 2017
Meldonium is the key issue when attorneys for boxer Deontay Wilder and his promoter Lou DiBella square off against Alexander Povetkin and his promoter World of Boxing. In the latest filings, Wilder’s attorneys claim that Povetkin’s side withheld a damaging email it sent to VADA regarding Povetkin’s testing.
Now, Wilder’s attorneys are seeking to introduce the evidence to reveal that in production of documents an email was withheld.
The crux of the issue that will go to trial next week is whether Alexander Povetkin took Meldonium after the official WADA ban on the substance January 1, 2016. Wilder’s attorneys claim Povetkin took the banned substance after January 1 thus the reason the heavyweight pulled out of an anticipated fight in Russian in May 2016. Povetkin’s claim is that he took the drug prior to January 1, 2016 as prescribed by his physician and prior to the ban. They plan to introduce evidence and testimony that Meldonium can take time to leave the system.
One of the big issues will be a series of VADA drug tests on Povetkin. Tests in April 2016 reveal Povetkin had negative tests from April 7, 8 and 11 but a latter test on April 27 detected Meldonium.
Wilder’s attorney provided the court with a supplemental expert report which analyzed raw data from the tests. Povetkin’s attorneys are fighting to include a rebuttal expert report which suggests that the raw data analyzed shows that Povetkin may have had Meldonium in his system during the April 7, 8 and 11 tests.
The anticipated working theory is that Wilder will argue that the negative tests in early April plus the April 27 test show that Povetkin took the drug post April 11, 2016.
Povetkin rebuts this theory with the argument that the negative tests actually show the possibility that the fighter had Meldonium in his system at the time.
Perhaps damaging the Povetkin side is the withheld email which is purportedly from a representative of the World of Boxing, Dmitry Ivanov, to VADA’s Margaret Goodman which reads:
I would like to discuss with you about tests. In Spain it were t[h]ree times tests. It is too much. ***Recently I wrote about our best time table for.
Cause you know it will be very important fight in our career and we need have the best preparation and limit tests in order not to negative result.
We are really can’t have a tests every other days.
Hope you understand me in this issue. * * * Help to us make preparation in the good regime. * * *
p.s. I am sorry about my English. Hope you understand me right.
Wilder’s attorney claim that this email shows that World of Boxing is trying to conceal something by requesting that Povetkin’s drug tests are limited.
Povetkin’s attorneys have yet to respond.
If there is such thing as a hot document, Wilder believes that this is one that fits its theory of the case “like a glove” as it wrote to the court on Thursday of last week. It’s likely we’ll see the introduction of more dueling expert reports and rebuttals. How much will the court allow before the trial starts will be up to the court.
February 2, 2017
As trial in the Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin is ready to go next week, the attorneys for each side are fighting over expert data.
The sole issue to be determined at trial is whether Povetkin ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016. Povetkin took Meldonium as recommended by his physician in August and September 2015 prior to its ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Meldonium remains in the system for many months after its use. WADA provided a notice on June 30, 2016 regarding Meldonium’s inclusion on the Prohibited List and excretion studies related to when the substance would leave the system.
The law firm of Arnold & Porter, the attorneys for Povetkin and his promoter World of Boxing are requesting the court to submit a rebuttal expert in light of a supplemental report provided by Wilder. Arnold & Porter claim that Wilder’s attorneys, Judd & Burstein, provided additional biological data from the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory concerning Povetkin’s test results. The supplemental expert report included information from the data. The discovery deadline was in December so the parties are at an impasse regarding the inclusion of the information in evidence. Of course, Wilder’s attorneys would object to the inclusion of the new expert from Povetkin at this time since they did not have time to depose the expert on their opinion.
In all likelihood, the court will grant the new expert and a report, if any, but grant Wilder’s attorneys to depose him prior to his in court testimony.
From Povetkin attorney’s standpoint, they claim that Wilder’s side will present evidence that Povetkin took Meldonium after the April 11th VADA test (urine collection) but before the April 27 VADA test. The evidence, Arnold & Porter suggests, are negative tests for Meldonium on April 7, 8 and 11 but an April 27 test that yielded a positive result. But, Povetkin’s attorneys argue that the newly provided data and supplemental expert report show that “Meldonium had washed out by April 11.” Essentially, the argument is that the “raw data” may show trace amounts of Meldonium in the previous tests thought to be negative.
To break this argument down, Povetkin’s attorney want to explain the reasons for the “raw data” and supplemental expert report. Thus, they want to have their own expert to render an opinion on the results and Wilder’s expert report. One would assume that they would claim that the data suggests that one cannot conclude that Povetkin took Meldonium after January 1, 2016 despite the “negative tests.”
MMA Payout will continue to follow.
February 2, 2017
Zuffa has filed a motion for partial summary judgment to dismiss the claims of antitrust plaintiff Nate Quarry based on statute of limitations.
The motion was filed yesterday and requests an oral argument although that is not guaranteed.
The motion seeks to dismiss Quarry’s claims based on his promotional, bout and merchandise agreements with the company and deposition testimony. The motion claims that Quarry’s claim is barred by the Four-Year Statute of Limitations. In the alternative, it states that the “continuing violation exception” does not apply to his untimely claim.
“Distilled to its essence, Mr. Quarry’s claim challenges the scope of the UFC Identity Rights he contractually granted to Zuffa, the duration of those grants, and the payments he received in return—all terms in his 2004, 2005, and 2008 Promotional Agreements; his 2008 Merchandise Rights Agreement; and his January 2010 Bout Agreement.”
Zuffa argues that Quarry’s “last relevant agreement with Zuffa was executed in January 2010, but he chose to file suit in December 2014.”
15 U.S.C. section 15b limits antitrust claims to a four-year statute of limitations.
Zuffa also claims that Quarry’s claim should not be allowed through the “continuing violation exception.” This exception would override a statute of limitations defense. However, Zuffa argues that relevant case law precludes such an exception since Quarry signed his Identity Rights outside the limitations period. Even if Quarry argues that he received a benefit after the limitations period (i.e. after January 2010 and within four years from the filing of the lawsuit, thus being within the time to sue), there was not a new “overt act” performed by Zuffa which would restart the statute of limitations.
The motion was filed with Quarry’s promotional, bout and merchandise agreements but they were filed under seal meaning that public does not have access to them.
Quarry was deposed by Zuffa and you can see the strategy was to probe him for information to try to dismiss his claims from the lawsuit. Similarly, we would probably see this happening with other UFC veterans. Plaintiffs will have until mid-February to oppose the motion.