March 29, 2017
A federal judge in Connecticut has issued a written smackdown of the litigation between the WWE and former wrestlers in a contentious lawsuit claiming that the company knew of information concerning a link between repeated head trauma and permanent neurological conditions that it exposed to its wrestlers.
The lawsuit involves former pro wrestlers Evan Singleton and Vito LoGrasso and World Wrestling Entertainment. The Plaintiffs originally filed their lawsuit in Pennsylvania in January 2015. They were among several former wrestlers that filed suit which were represented by the same lawyer and law firm. The WWE successfully moved the case to Connecticut where the company is headquartered. Judge Vanessa L. Bryant issued an order denying a motion for summary judgment from the WWE on the issue of fraud by omission claim brought by the wrestlers.
As part of the summary judgment motion, the parties must submit a statement of undisputed material facts (“SUF”) . The party opposing the motion, has the opportunity to admit or deny the facts submitted by the moving party and then assert its own SUF.
The judge chastised both sides for submitting briefs that were longer than the rules allowed. “[T]he parties have buried the Court in extraneous information, a substantial portion of which is argument and not fact.
The Court allows briefs for Motions for Summary Judgment to have a maximum limit of 46 pages. However, WWE’s brief was 60 pages. Plaintiffs submitted a 125-page statement in response to the WWE’s overlong brief.
As a result, the Court determined that the parties should refile its statements as they were “unnecessarily long and argumentative, and reviewing them in full would be wasteful of the Court’s scarce resources.”
The Court order both parties to submit revised Statement of Facts with a limit of 30 pages for the WWE and Plaintiffs to file a short response admitting or denying Defendant’s SUF and then filing 30 pages with its own disputed issues of material fact.
The venom between the lawyers in this lawsuit is exemplified by the overlong briefs as they cannot agree on even the undisputed facts of this case. As a requisite part of the filing, a concise statement is required. Here, long does not necessarily mean effective. Moreover, the order issued by the Judge shows she is not happy with either side.
Singelton and LoGrasso are the last WWE wrestlers standing as Judge Bryant dismissed similar claims brought by Russ McCullough, Ryan Sakoda, Matthew Wiese and William Albert Haynes, III as the Court concluded they didn’t wrestle with WWE after the company allegedly learned of a link between concussions and degenerative neurological diseases in 2015.
March 27, 2017
Attorneys for Nate Quarry have filed its Opposition Brief to Zuffa’s Motion for Summary Judgment to dismiss Quarry’s claims in the antitrust lawsuit filed in Nevada. Quarry’s lawyers argue that while his last contract was in 2010, the harm to Quarry arose out of Zuffa’s scheme as a whole.
Quarry’s attorneys note that the former UFc fighter was “injured” during the limitations period – the four-year period between December 16, 2010 to December 16, 2014. Among the claims is that he has not been paid from Zuffa during the period and continues to receive no payment from Zuffa’s “ongoing use of his image and likeness.” Quarry notes that the use occurs through the use of his fights (including a bout while he was not with the UFC) on UFC Fight Pass and a highlight with Quarry’s likeness is in the video montage of the UFC PPVs.
While the UFC argues that the “express terms” of Quarry’s contract with the UFC show that his claims are time-barred by a statute of limitations. However, Quarry argues that he can show evidence of affirmative “overt acts” taken by Zuffa with the use of his likeness/image still on Fight Pass. Quarry’s attorneys state that fighters are not compensated for the use of their likeness/image on UFC Fight Pass and this is furtherance of the antitrust claims filed by Plaintiffs.
In addition, they cite posters autographed by Quarry from his title fight at UFC 56 on sale on the UFC web site store for $999.999 and $1,149.99. He has not received compensation for these posters
Also of note, Quarry notes a document produced by Zuffa in discovery which allegedly accounts for uses of his image or likeness within the limitations period.
In opposing Zuffa’s argument that Quarry cannot show a continued violation of antitrust laws because of his own “receipt of benefits,” Quarry lawyers cite the Ed O’Bannon and Bill Russell cases brought against the NCAA for use of their images and likenesses. Quarry’s lawyers note that the court rejected arguments that scholarship agreements by O’Bannon and Russell occurred much more than four years before their lawsuits were filed. Quarry’s tie this ruling as similar to Quarry’s contract with the UFC and the continued use of his image and likeness on Fight Pass. Notably, Boies Schiller, Zuffa’s attorneys here, was one of the firms representing the plaintiffs against the NCAA.
The basic argument here is that Zuffa claims that Quarry’s lawsuit is barred by a 4 year statute of limitations since his contract with the UFC was in 2010. However, Quarry argues that Zuffa is still using his likeness/image through UFC Fight Pass and selling his autograph on the UFC web site. It is ironic that Zuffa’s attorneys have been on both side of this argument and will be interested to see how they respond.
March 27, 2017
A day after Brock Lesnar was officially served the lawsuit filed by Mark Hunt, his attorneys have filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit. Howard Jacobs, the California attorney specializing in drug testing and represented Lesnar in his case against USADA, is also representing him in this lawsuit.
Lesnar has joined the UFC and Dana White’s Motion to Dismiss which was filed last month and provided its own briefing specific to Lesnar’s case. The first matter Lesnar’s motion argued was that Hunt’s RICO violations were not sufficient to stand against Lesnar.
Specifically, it joins the UFC/White’s argument regarding the perceived missteps by Hunt in stating that he lacks “standing” – essentially the legal right, to pursue a Civil RICO Claim. Here, Lesnar highlights that Hunt’s damages are speculative at best. He also identifies that Hunt does not show the requisite steps needed to uphold a Civil RICO claim. Essentially, there is no “pattern of racketeering activity” by an “enterprise.”
Lesnar’s attorneys state that Hunt’s claim is “so incredibly deficient” as to the WWE superstar that “it is difficult to know where to event begin.”
The motion argues that Hunt’s complaint as to the RICO violation does not show an existence of a RICO conspiracy. Basically, Lesnar contends that you cannot simply allege a conspiracy violating the RICO statute just because there are multiple allegations.
— Jason Cruz (@dilletaunt) March 27, 2017
Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss was obviously premeditated prior to service on the WWE sports entertainer. The motion details the deficiencies that may likely halt the lawsuit before it begins with respect to the Civil RICO claims. The motion identifies for the court the issues it has with claiming that there was a conspiracy set forth by the UFC, White and to his extent, Lesnar. If nothing else, we might see the court dismissing the Civil RICO claim as to Lesnar. MMA Payout will have more on this. Stay tuned.
March 26, 2017
We’re back: Gift and Nash of Bloody Elbow and yours truly discussing Mayweather-McGregor, Bellator, WME-IMG, Hunt-UFC and I get mad at a judge.
March 25, 2017
The Estate of Dennis Munson, Jr. has filed a lawsuit against the Roufus Sport and other entities as a result of his death during an amateur kickboxing event in Milwaukee. John Diedrich of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on the lawsuit and previously wrote about the errors that occurred on the night the amateur kickboxer died.
In addition to Roufus Sport, the estate sued the ring side doctors on hand among others that failed to stop the unregulated amateur fight. At the time, amateur kickboxing was not covered by the state of Wisconsin – only boxing and MMA. A law was passed after the unfortunate incident to include kickboxing as a regulated sport in the state.
Since kickboxing was unregulated at the time, the state did not investigate the event. An investigation by the Milwaukee Police Department and the district attorney’s office did not bring criminal charges.
The lawsuit, filed this past week, was likely to occur due to the safety failures surrounding the event. It’s not clear that regulation would have saved Munson’s life, but there would be a greater likelihood that with safety rules in place, the fight would have been stopped earlier and/or the measures to ensure the medical attention needed might have prevented his death.
March 23, 2017
Brock Lesnar has been personally served in the Mark Hunt lawsuit according to court papers filed today. The UFC heavyweight filed the lawsuit in January in Nevada.
Earlier this week, Hunt’s attorneys filed its opposition brief in the UFC and Dana White’s Motion to Dismiss. Lesnar had not yet been served according to a footnote in the brief. The attorneys for Hunt had been working to serve Lesnar but had been unsuccessful.
— Jason Cruz (@dilletaunt) March 23, 2017
Since Lesnar is a Canadian citizen and he was unwilling to accept service voluntarily, Hunt had to serve him pursuant to the protocol of the Hague convention. While this might sound daunting, it shouldn’t be.
One would have to think that Lesnar join the Motion to Dismiss brought by the UFC and White. Although this Lesnar’s claims differ from the UFC and White, expect the current WWE star’s attorney to proclaim the lawsuit as without merit. MMA Payout will have more on this in the coming weeks.
March 22, 2017
A footnote to the opposition brief notes that Brock Lesnar has not accepted service of the lawsuit since he resides in Saskatchewan, Canada and will not accept service.
— Jason Cruz (@dilletaunt) March 23, 2017
Taking issue with the UFC’s characterization that Hunt’s lawsuit is speculative at best, Hunt’s attorneys state that the New Zealand heavyweight has actual damages despite the fact that this is not the standard for dismissal in a Motion to Dismiss. Hunt’s attorneys aregue that the UFC and Dana White are seeking Hunt to prove his claims at this stage of the lawsuit but the standard for a Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment differ.
Among the issues of note in the lengthy response, Hunt’s attorneys note that he is the owner of a clothing brand, Juggernaut, and his loss impacts his brand. The opposition brief plainly states that losing is bad for business as despite the UFC’s assertions that Hunt’s damages are merely speculative, Hunt’s claims are real.
— Jason Cruz (@dilletaunt) March 23, 2017
As another example, Hunt claims that his contract with the UFC has a clause which grants a step up in pay from $850,000 to $1,000,000 in title fights. Although his contract is lodged as an exhibit to his Complaint, that part of the lawsuit is sealed from the public’s view.
— Jason Cruz (@dilletaunt) March 23, 2017
In its conclusion, Hunt’s attorneys request that if a the Court finds in favor of the UFC and White that it have a right to amend its Complaint which may be done pursuant to the court rules.
The hearing is set for May 15, 2017.
The opposition goes on to debunk the arguments made by the UFC in its brief. Reading the section on Hunt’s contract claims, its hard to decipher whether that clause in his contract is based on title fights in which he is a challenger or if he becomes a champion. Due to its vagueness, it might be the latter. As for his claim that his brand would be diminished, this may be true. It also might not be true. However, as Hunt’s attorneys point out the allegation is concrete enough to survive a Motion to Dismiss. After discovery, and a Motion for Summary Judgment, that might not be the case. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
March 21, 2017
Al Haymon’s attorneys filed its Bill of Costs with the court in the antitrust lawsuit brought by Golden Boy Boxing. As the prevailing party at the trial court level, its entitled to its costs which is slightly under $35,000 but they may not see this amount.
Golden Boy filed a Notice of Appeal to the Federal Circuit Court as the trial court dismissed its lawsuit against Al Haymon in February. Under Federal Rule 54(d)(1), legal costs (not attorney legal fees) should be allowed to a prevailing party. The costs include almost $30,000 in deposition costs for the lawsuit which lasted a year and a half.
In addition to the legal costs it incurred during the lawsuit, Golden Boy might be hit with $35,000 it will need to pay Haymon. Of course, even if there was not an appeal, Golden Boy probably would have disputed this amount. Since it is going to be appealed, Haymon might have the right to recoup this fee plus attorney fees if it wins on appeal. If the trial court decision is overturned, it will likely see none of this amount.
March 18, 2017
A Los Angeles Federal Magistrate Judge has transferred Bellator’s Motion to Quash Zuffa’s Subpoenas to the Nevada court hearing the antitrust lawsuit. The decision to transfer venue was made on Friday March 17th and done without oral argument.
Citing “exceptional circumstances” pursuant to the federal rules governing subpoenas, it determined that the “interests in favor of transfer outweigh the interests of Bellator in obtaining local resolution of the subpoena-related motions.”
Bellator, a non-party in the antitrust lawsuit, sought relief from a UFC subpoena requesting certain documents including information related to specific fighter contracts including information related to negotiations, terminations, cancellations and transfer of contracts. Bellator has provided the UFC with documents but reached an impasse on certain information.
The federal magistrate, which ordered the transfer, pointed to the looming May 1, 2017 fact discovery deadline, the Nevada court issued the protective order and the Nevada magistrate had been active in previous discovery as reasons for the transfer.
Moreover, the court determined that Bellator would not be inconvenienced by having to appear in Nevada citing the possibility of appearing telephonically. Alternatively, the proximity between California and Nevada would make the travel negligible.
If you were to ask me, it appears that California did not want anything to do with the Motion. Rather, it kicked it back to Nevada to deal with the details of the Motion and the lawsuit. In most instances, Bellator did the appropriate thing in filing for relief where their business is primarily located but the court found reasons to negate the inconvenience. For the UFC, it’s a win as the issue will go before the magistrate that has been dealing with the UFC and plaintiffs since the case was transferred from a Norther California federal court back in June 2015.
MMA Payout will have more on this. Stay tuned.
March 14, 2017
Attorneys for World of Boxing and Alexander Povetkin have filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law and/or a new trial this past Friday. The hearing is scheduled for April 21, 2017 before the trial court judge in New York.
A jury determined that Povetkin took the banned substance Meldonium after January 1, 2016. It was the sole issue determined at trial.
World of Boxing and Povetkin attorneys intimated that they would be moving for either an appeal or this relief stating issues with the decision and conduct of Wilder’s attorneys.
Under Federal Civil Rule of Procedure 50, Judgment as a Matter of Law is a motion that can be made during trial or after. Essentially, it requests the judge take the decision out of the hands of the jury citing that the other party has not proven its case, and as a matter of law, should rule in favor of the moving party.
Under Federal Civil Rule of Procedure 59, a Motion for New Trial, may be requested any time within 28 days after the jury verdict. It may be granted if there was a serious erroneous result or a miscarriage of justice.
The motion is long and outside the bounds of the page length for a motion and the attorneys have asked attorneys to file extra pages. The attorneys for World of Boxing and Povetkin claim that the jury verdict was not based on the evidence, the testimony of one of Wilder’s experts should not have been relied upon, the timing of the trial did not allow for all the questions to be answered and the purported misconduct of Wilder’s attorney.
The motion goes before the trial court judge which makes it somewhat hard for the moving party because they are arguing that the judge did not oversee their trial properly and thus must do it again. These motions would be quicker than an appeal although it would seem that they are exhausting all options. MMA Payout will return later with a substantive look at the claims.