Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust lawsuit file Emergency Motion to Compel

July 1, 2017

On Friday, Plaintiffs in the Zuffa Antitrust lawsuit filed an Emergency Motion to Compel citing the UFC’s withholding of 30,000 documents due to alleged privilege.  The Plaintiffs are requesting an expediting hearing on the matter for July 13, 2017 due to the pending fact discovery deadline of July 31, 2017.

The motion states that the UFC has withheld documents citing privilege which Plaintiffs deem are too broad.  The parties have “met and conferred,” a requisite process in which the opposing sides are to make a good faith effort to resolve their discovery disputes.  However, as likely predicted, the parties are at an impasse.

Central to the dispute is the fact that the privilege log of withheld documents provide vague descriptions from which Plaintiffs cannot assess whether it is truly a privileged document or not.  Plaintiffs contend that the privilege log is not per the rules of discovery.

The Plaintiffs are requesting that the UFC produced non-privileged documents within 5 court (business) days and a revised privilege log.

Payout Perspective:
Privilege logs are a list of documents that parties provide to the other side to let them know that they are withholding the information but there is a valid reason (i.e. attorney-client privilege).  Usually the key in determining if a document is privileged if its from an attorney to a client and it contains or provides legal advice.  The interpretation of this meaning is used narrowly by parties seeking documents and broadly by those seeking to protect the disclosure.  You can predict that the UFC will oppose this motion and will be upset due to the shorter time to respond.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Parties request further clarification over discovery in UFC Antitrust case

June 21, 2017

After a June 1, 2017 conference with the Judge Peggy Leen to discuss outstanding discovery issues, the attorneys for the fighters and the UFC are at it again over what was said at the hearing.

On June 20th, Plaintiffs’ attorneys sent a letter to the Court requesting clarification on “a number of issues arising out of the Court’s order.”  The Plaintiffs sought clarification from the following:

  1. “Do Third Parties that produced documents before or just after the hearing count against the 5 document subpoenas allowed to Plaintiffs?” Plaintiffs have informed the UFC that they were intending to pursue documents from Golden Boy Promotions, Haymon, DiBella Entertainment, Inc., Top Rank, Inc. and Gary Shaw.  Plaintiffs had served documents subpoenas on 17  third parties.  The reason for the clarification is because they were to receive documents from Leon Margueles and Jakks Pacific prior to the hearing.The UFC claims that the two count as part of the maximum 5 issued by the Court.  Obviously, the Plaintiffs contend that they do not.  The UFC notes in its memo to the Court that Plaintiffs did not bring up this production to the Court.
  1. “Has the Court Authorized Plaintiffs to Depose Matt Hume?” Hume is a part of OneFC as Vice President of Operations and Competiton for the company.  According to Plaintiffs, counsel for OneFC will not accept a subpoena and since the company is headquartered in Singapore, lack jurisdiction.  The UFC did not oppose this request and takes no position.  It should be noted that both Plaintiffs and the UFC have agreed to document production from OneFC which was not counted against the 5 allowed by the Court.
  2. “Can Plaintiffs Pursue Discovery from Mercer?” The fighter pay study commissioned by the UFC’s attorneys to be done by Mercer is at issue here. Plaintiffs would like to “resume the discovery initiated in mid-2016.”  The UFC wants this counted as a third-party request.  It notes that some of the documents requested by Plaintiffs were designated as work product by the UFC in spite of the previous court ruling requiring certain documents produced by Mercer to be produced.  In addition, it is requesting clarification regarding a deposition of Mercer.  The UFC had offered to stipulate to the authenticity of documents produced by Mercer in lieu of a CR 30(b)(6) deposition.  But, according to the UFC, Plaintiffs never responded.

Payout Perspective:

The parties were ordered to meet and confer over outstanding discovery issues after the court conference but there is still conflict between the parties.  Laid out by the parties, it’s clear there might be a legitimate gripe.  It usually not a good look to be seeking clarification just after a hearing to go over discovery issues again especially when the overarching theme of the process is for the parties to cooperate.  These types of outstanding issues (i.e., what counts as 5 third-parties, etc.) must be discussed by the parties in Court in front of the judge.  There are some issues that you might not be able to think of while standing in court, but that’s why there are usually more than one (likely three or four) attorneys at the hearing so they can pass along notes to lead counsel to come up with questions to clarify.  Likely, Judge Leen will hold a teleconference but will none too pleased that the parties are coming back.

Plaintiffs Memo Re Discovery by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Defendants Memo Re Discovery by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Court issues Order on UFC Subpoena to Bellator

June 15, 2017

The Court in the UFC Antitrust case has issued its order with respect to the June 1, 2017 hearing.

Plaintiffs and Defendants submitted Proposed Orders but the Court decided to draft its own version.  Officially, the Court denied Bellator’s Motion to Quash the UFC Subpoena and the UFC’s Motion to Compel Documents but granted Bellator’s Motion to Modify the Subpoenas.

The Court ordered that Bellator will have until July 5, 2017 to produce the documents identified in the order and “all documents responsive to the subpoenas served by both parties on which agreements were reached during the meet and confer process.”

Notably, the Court requires that Bellator produce the following documents:

  1. A random sample of at least 20 percent of fighters under contract with Bellator between January 1, 2010 and the present. This will include any “amendments, modifications, side letters, or extensions that may exist with respect to any contract that is produced…”
  2. Bellator will produced “Anonymized contracts” with a unique identifier although identifying information “may be redacted.”
  3. The contracts “shall include the fighter’s gender, weight class, number of fights during term of agreements and any compensation to be paid.
  4. The Court limited and modified Bellator’s request for production to the following
    1. A list of all MMA events it promoted or co-promoted from January 1, 2010 through the present.
    2. An unaudited profit and loss statement through the quarter ending March 31, 2017 which will include Revenue, Expenses, Operating Income and Net Income.

Order on Motion to Quash and Motion to Compel 06.13.17 by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Despite the Court clarifying the order, expect the parties and Bellator to squabble over the turning over of the documents.  For Bellator, the production of documents is bad, but it could have been worse.  Still, this is an additional expense for the company as it will need to look at all of the documents, determine responsiveness and redact identifiable information and then produce them.  The unaudited profit and loss statement through March 31, 2017 seems to be the hardest business item the company must give up since the UFC and Plaintiffs’ attorneys will have a chance to see their raw data.

Discovery Plan and Scheduling Order issued in UFC Antitrust Case

June 15, 2017

On Tuesday of this week, the parties in the Zuffa Antitrust Lawsuit filed its Discovery Plan and Scheduling Order.  The order is a result of the Motion to Compel and Motion to Quash earlier this month.

The order extends fact discovery to July 31, 2017.  Expert reports and expert deposition will go through the fall of 2017 with all expert reports in by 2017.  Class certification, the motion to determine whether or not the lawsuit will be a class action will commence on January 26, 2018 and the hearing on class certification will occur on the Court’s convenience.

Summary Judgment motions, motions that could dismiss the case, will be due on July 9, 2018.  Opposition to the motions will be due a month later, on August 8, 2018 and Reply Briefs will not be due until a month later, September 17, 2018.

You can expect dispositive motions (Summary Judgment) to occur with both sides filing something either the UFC dismissing all of Plaintiffs’ claims or Plaintiffs filing summary judgment on the UFC’s defense or defenses.  Both sides will likely request oral argument and sometime thereafter there should be a ruling.  Either the Court will grant or deny or issues partial granting or denial of certain issues.

After that, there will likely be a trial in the late fall of 2018 or early 2019.  Of course, recall that it took over a year for Judge Richard Boulware to issue a written opinion.  So, the timeline may be longer dependent on when the Court issues a ruling.  There’s really no hard deadline for the Court to issue an opinion, so this could take some time.

With fact discovery extended until July 31, 2017, it appears that new discovery (i.e., written interrogatories, request for production of documents, etc.) can be served.  Zuffa had argued that Plaintiffs should not have the opportunity to request additional discovery.

Discovery Plan 06.13.17 by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Judge orders UFC hand over fighter pay documents

June 12, 2017

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen issued a 26-page ruling on Friday in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit which requires the UFC to hand over a study related to fighter pay.  There were three document requests demanded by Plaintiffs which included information related to a fighter pay study.

Order on Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd


Mercer is a third party human resources consultant.  The primary dispute is over a study commissioned by Mercer to produce a “fighter pay assessment” to guide “future compensation and benefits program design, including fighter pay (base and incentives) and benefit levels.”

The UFC produced 6 documents to requests by Plaintiffs and there are 3 documents in dispute.  Two were created by Mercer and the third was an email chain between the UFC’s in-house counsel and its outside lawyers Campbell & Williams regarding setting up a phone call with “outside consultants.”

After the documents were received by Plaintiffs, a subpoena and deposition notice to Mercer regarding the fighter pay study.  At that time, the UFC notified Plaintiffs are “clawing back” the three documents in dispute citing work product.  Clawing back is a request made of the inadvertent waiver of alleged privileged documents.  The claw back is usually dictated by the protected order the parties agree to at the start of litigation.

Of the three documents in dispute, the first is a memo from a Mercer employee regarding statement of work for the fighter pay study, the second is the aforementioned email chain between the UFC’s lawyer and Campbell & Williams and the third is a draft presentation entitled, “Fighter Pay/Project Update and Methodology Discussion dated March 18, 2014.

As the judge’s order notes:

“The presentation discusses a comparator group of other sports organizations including NASCAR, MLB, the NBA, and the NHL whose compensation practices Mercer proposed to study to “provide an external basis for understanding how UFC’s fighter pay structure and practices compares to similar companies.”

All three documents claimed that the information was work product.

The key term to understand when determining work product is whether the documents were created in “anticipation of litigation.”  The Court determined that they were not.

Notably, the UFC argued that a previous “quite contentious” interaction with Bellator as reasons why the current information was work product.  They cited the Eddie Alvarez lawsuit which produced a contract that has been used time and again.

The Court did not buy the UFC’s argument that the documents were work product.

Under the Court Order, the UFC must produce the documents.  The Court did not intervene on another issue regarding privilege log designations from UFC – a list of documents that a party must produce to show the opposing side what it is withholding and what privilege it is claiming to withhold.  The Court wants the parties to conduct a meaningful “meet and confer” prior to judicial intervention.

Payout Perspective:

This is a loss for the UFC as it wanted the documents to be privileged.  With the documents in Plaintiffs hands, they will likely conduct a deposition of the Mercer employee(s) that produced the study as well as use the information in deposing UFC officials.  Will this facilitate any settlement?  Probably not, but the information may reveal information for the overall theme of the case for the Plaintiffs.

Proposed Order outlines documents Bellator to produce to parties in Antitrust lawsuit

June 5, 2017

The Federal Magistrate has ruled on Bellator’s Motion to Quash the Subpoena and its Motion to Modify the UFC’s Subpoena.  According to a Proposed Order drafted by Zuffa, the Court has denied Bellator’s Motion to Quash and granted its Motion to Modify.

Although the Court has not yet signed the Order, barring an objection or request for an Amendment from the Plaintiffs and/or Bellator’s counsel as to the form of the order, it is likely that this is the Order that will be entered.  One would think that the parties would have hashed the language out prior to filing with the Court.

As you might recall, Bellator filed its motion in Los Angeles Federal Court but the magistrate granted transfer to the court in Nevada.  On June 1, the Court heard oral arguments and issued a minute order.

Outlined in Bellator’s Motion to Quash, 5 document demands which Bellator summarized below:

  1. Bellator’s confidential contracts and negotiation with MMA athletes (Plaintiffs’ Demand No. 4; UFC Demand No. 1); and
  2. Bellator’s detailed revenues and expenses from operations (Plaintiffs’ Demand No. 12: UFC Demand Nos. 7 and 12).

Zuffa had “requested unredacted contracts and documents regarding its negotiations with athletes, and limited financial information including profit/loss statements and financial projections.”  Bellator claimed that it is “confidential commercial information, that the documents are irrelevant to the claims and defenses at issue in the Nevada Action, that producing the information would be an undue burden, and that Bellator may suffer competitive harm from disclosing the information.”

The Proposed Order would require for Bellator to provide the following:

  1. “[a]ll agreements between Bellator and its athletes for a randomized sample of athletes” with the names and other identifiers (i.e., addresses, social security numbers, etc.) redacted.
  2. A database of these [in No. 1] athletes with information identifying: athlete gender and weight class by year/the number of bouts completed/any discretionary or “locker room” bonuses paid any athlete as well as any signing bonuses.
  3. Quarterly profit/loss statements covering the period from January 1, 2009 to present;
  4. Event-level profit/loss statements for all events from January 1, 2009 to present for each event which Bellator contends UFC adversely impacted its events.

Bellator will have to give up documents but the original request was modified by the Court.  These documents will be provided to the parties by June 23, 2017.

Proposed Order Re Bellator by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Obviously, a loss for Bellator as it will have to produce documents despite being a nonparty.  However, it could have been worse.  Number 4 on the Proposed Order puts some pressure on Bellator as it is essentially calling for Bellator to make a decision on which events were impacted by the UFC.  Of course, the decision on what to produce and what not to produce might impact the litigation since its the UFC’s argument that Bellator is a competitor.  In the end, Bellator is a nonparty that is now needing to incur legal expense to produce documents as well as evaluate the documents they are producing considering that the information is highly sensitive.  Moreover, the need to redacting documents is not a quick process despite the online tools to streamline the process.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Fact discovery issues over White’s phones to be heard Thursday

May 31, 2017

On Thursday, the parties in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit will conduct a hearing to determine a number of discovery issues, most importantly, the status of Dana White’s phones.  The hearing will take in federal court in Vegas before a magistrate which hears these types of discovery disputes.

Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Compel the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information seeking information from four phones from Dana White.  For those wondering, the phones identified are an iPhone 4, an iPhone 6 and two Nokia flip phones.  It believes that the phones all include information for which White conducted business which may be related to Plaintiffs’ claims.  The motion and reply to Zuffa’s opposition suggests that Zuffa did not comply with the discovery process, violated the Court Order regarding discovery and did not preserve evidence when it was notified that information would likely be requested.  As it appears that certain information from White’s phones are no longer available, the Plaintiffs request an order to serve subpoenas on White’s telecommunications service providers in an effort to obtain communications logs to show the “times and dates messages were sent and received in White’s devices.”

Plaintiffs Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Plaintiffs claim that Zuffa has used the fact discovery cut-off to “stonewall” discovery.  Fact discovery was due on May 1, 2017, but it was clear that due to the continued meeting and conferring over documents and the issues with obtaining documents from non-parties, it would not be complete.  Realistically, this may not be any parties’ fault, and therefore it is left to the Magistrate to decide what is fair.

Plaintiffs Reply to Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

In its opposition to the Motion to Compel, Zuffa states it “has produced over 650,000 documents, including 44,928 text messages to Plaintiffs.”  The tone of the opposition is of a party that has made its best efforts to comply with discovery while making Plaintiffs appear overbearing and zealous in its request for additional discovery.  This includes Zuffa claiming to have to “re-reproduce” all text messages due to the fact that Plaintiffs claim that some text were not originally produced.  Zuffa hired vendors to conduct forensic analysis of the information from White’s phone in preparing to turn over the information to Plaintiffs.  Moreover, it states it has complied with the standing order from the Court and the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure.  It also claims that Plaintiffs failed to “meet and confer” in good faith.

Defendant’s Response to Motion to Compel by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

As suggested in its Reply Brief (the seconded embedded document above), it would appear that the request to serve a subpoena on White’s telecommunications provider (e.g. Sprint, ATT, Verizon) would add another layer to the discovery process and add more time to discovery.  Moreover, one would think that with other parties objecting to the subpoenas that a telecommunications provider would object to the same.  One would think privacy matters and that the request would be overbroad and produce non-relevant information would be obstacles Plaintiffs would have to obtain the information.  Plaintiffs are hoping that the Magistrate will see that Zuffa attempted to stall discovery and will allow this request (or some version) as a way to “make things right.”  We will see on Thursday.

Court delays hearing on outstanding fact discovery issues in UFC Antitrust case

May 18, 2017

A hearing that was set for Thursday to discuss outstanding issues in the UFC Antitrust case has been continued until June 1st.

The hearing was requested to determine outstanding discovery issues.  The fact discovery deadline was May 1, 2017.  However, Plaintiffs argued that the UFC had not turned over certain documents that would facilitate the depositions of Dana White and others.  It also indicated that it had yet to receive non-party information from outside parties.   The UFC claimed that Plaintiffs were reopening fact discovery.  It did concede to a 30 day continuation of fact discovery.

A portion of the Order from Pacer reads:

IT IS ORDERED that the [52] Ex Parte Motion to Continue Hearing is GRANTED, and the hearing currently scheduled for May 18, 2017, at 1:45 p.m. is VACATED and CONTINUED.

Motion Hearing set for 6/1/2017, at 9:30 AM in LV Courtroom 3B before Magistrate Judge Peggy A. Leen.

Payout Perspective:

It looks like the Court would like the parties to “meet and confer” on their outstanding issues themselves and come up with a plan.  The deposition of Dana White is notable as Plaintiffs are seeking text messages from several phones in possession of White.  While the UFC claims to have turned over these records, Plaintiffs have stated that there are more texts not produced.  It does look like that we are in a holding pattern until there is some resolution of discovery issues.

Zuffa responds to Plaintiffs’ letter to the Court

May 10, 2017

Zuffa has responded to Plaintiffs’ letter to the Court requesting a status conference on outstanding discovery issues.  In its letter to the Court, they clarify issues asserted for the Plaintiffs and indicate that they are willing to extend the fact discovery deadline until June 15, 2017 but no new fact discovery requests.

The fact discovery deadline was May 1, 2017.  This would have been the last date in which Plaintiffs would have been able to obtain documents from Zuffa as well as non-parties (e.g. Bellator).  Notably, a Motion to Compel documents from Zinkin Entertainment is set for June 23, 2017, well past the deadline.

The Zuffa letter states that it has turned over 6,800 texts from two cellular phones used by Dana White.  Plaintiffs claimed that White had four phone numbers and likely four phones.

Zuffa asserts that it is willing to extend the fact discovery deadline but not 60 days, nor open it up to new discovery.  They contend, citing the letter Plaintiffs sent to Bjorn Rebney, that Plaintiffs have performed extensive discovery.

Zuffa's Response to Ps Statement by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The status conference is set for May 18, 2017.

Payout Perspective:

Using your own words against you hurts and this is what Zuffa attempts to do with the letter Plaintiffs sent to Bjorn Rebney in order for him to “cease and desist” from going forward with MMAAA.  The letter writing fight should be settled on May 18th and likely both sides will not be happy.  But, Zuffa’s letter advises the Court that Plaintiffs had ample time to obtain discovery while still seeming reasonable in proposing an extended date for discovery.

Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust lawsuit seek status conference to decide outstanding issues

May 7, 2017

Attorneys representing the Plaintiffs in the UFC antitrust lawsuit have requested a status conference with the federal magistrate to discuss outstanding issues that may impact the prosecution of its class action lawsuit.  The letter with the Court was filed on Friday, May 5th.

The Plaintiffs list several issues as to request a hearing with the Federal Magistrate, the judge that decides discovery issues.

Statement to Court by Plaintiffs by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Among the outstanding issues Plaintiffs would like to discuss include:

  • Plaintiffs’ Emergence Motion for Extension of Discovery Deadline and Case Management Schedule;
  • Plaintiffs’ Motion to Challenge Work Product Designation;
  • Non-Party Bellator’s Motion to Quash or Modify Subpoenas;
  • Third Party AXS TV LLC’s Motion to Quash Deposition Subpoenas of Mark Cuban (Plaintiffs’ response is due on May 8, 2017 according to the letter and similar to the Bellator issue, would like to move them to the District of Nevada.

As of the date of the letter, the Court has not ruled on any of the above motions.  Also, it has yet to hear the Motion for Summary Judgment of Plaintiff Nate Quarry.

Plaintiffs claim that these issues coupled with issues of preservation regarding obtaining text messages from Dana White’s four separate telephone numbers (and likely the same number of phones) as well as other documents not produced for key Zuffa witnesses have blocked the prosecution of the case.

Payout Perspective:

The need for all the information possible prior to a deposition is because Plaintiffs know they get one shot at deposing the witness and if they do not have the documents prior to the deposition they will not be prepared to ask questions related to the documents that may relate to their case.  In addition, Plaintiffs’ dilemma with non-parties is having the possibility of needing to litigate those matters as well.  Zuffa will likely respond to the letter and the Court will need to make a decision on whether to hold a hearing, decide the above issues or go forward with the current court deadlines.

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