Hunt lawsuit will continue after Motion to Dismiss hearing

May 25, 2017

The Las Vegas Court hearing the Mark Hunt lawsuit has denied the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss in part and granted portions of the lawsuit.  The upside for Hunt is that it has 10 days to file an amended complaint.

The hearing occurred on Monday, but the order was not posted until today.

Hunt filed this lawsuit in early January against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar claiming RICO violations, breach of contract, negligence and other allegations stemming from his UFC 200 bout against the current WWE star.

The Minute Order is as follows:

Full docket text for document 63:
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS – Motion Hearing held on 5/22/2017 before Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey. Crtrm Administrator: Danielle Cacciabaudo; Pla Counsel: Scott Ingold, Joseph Gonnella; Def Counsel: Colby J. Williams, Donald Campbell, Howard Jacobs, Kendelee Works, Peter Christiansen; Court Reporter/Recorder: Felicia Zabin; Time of Hearing: 1:58 p.m. – 3:08 p.m.; Courtroom: 6D;

The Court makes preliminary remarks and hears oral arguments on the motions to dismiss [11] and [30]. For reasons stated on the record, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motions to dismiss [11] and [30] as stated. Plaintiff has 10 days to file an amended complaint.

The Court further DENIES the motion to stay [47] without prejudice as stated on the record.

The minutes of this proceeding and the transcript will serve as the Court’s official order. No written order to follow

Payout Perspective:

This was the likeliest of outcomes with respect to dismissal of Hunt’s Complaint.  Parties have a right to refile and the interesting issue will be to see if the amended complaint will include RICO claims which carry treble (3x the proven amount) damages.  Additionally, the Court determined that the Motion to Stay Discovery is denied.  Since Hunt has the opportunity to file an amended complaint, there is no need to halt discovery since all indications is that Hunt will refile and this lawsuit will continue.

Motion to Dismiss Hunt lawsuit delayed

May 16, 2017

On Monday, a Minute Order was issued by the Federal Court in Nevada handling the Mark Hunt lawsuit against Dana White, Brock Lesnar and the UFC.  Due to a conflict a hearing on dismissing the lawsuit filed by Mark Hunt was reset to Monday, May 22, 2017 at 2pm.

Hunt filed the lawsuit in January alleging RICO violations, breach of contract, fraud and other allegations from his fight against Lesnar at UFC 200.  The UFC and White filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint.  Lesnar joined the motion and filed one of his own.  Hunt’s attorneys opposed the motions to dismiss.

The “Minute Order” is an official order from the Court but a court reporter may not be present.  Oftentimes, it is a response to a party’s request.  But in this case, it merely is resetting the date of the motion one week.

In the meantime, Lesnar’s attorneys have filed their Reply in Support of its Motion to Dismiss:

Reply Motion by Lesnar by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Zuffa, White and Lesnar seek to stay discovery in Hunt lawsuit pending Motion to Dismiss

April 27, 2017

Zuffa and Dana White have filed a motion to stay discovery in the Mark Hunt case pending the company’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit which will be heard on May 15, 2017 in Nevada.  According to the court filings, Brock Lesnar is likely to join the motion.

Joining the motion essentially places the party in the same place as the entity that filed the motion.  Thus, Zuffa and Lesnar (the law firm of Campbell & Williams represents Zuffa and Howard Jacobs represents Lesnar) would seek to stay the discovery sought by Hunt.

Hunt filed this lawsuit in Nevada federal court in early January claiming that Zuffa and Dana White violated the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Fraud, False Pretenses, Breach of Contract, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Negligence and Unjust Enrichment.  The premise of the Complaint is that the UFC allowed Lesnar to fight at UFC 200 while providing the WWE wrestler with an exemption from the UFC’s anti-doping policy.  Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance in both an out-of-competition and in-competition drug test.  Lesnar had been tested by USADA on several occasions prior to the positive tests.

The current motion argues that the defendants (Zuffa, White and Lesnar) should not have to expend money to conduct discovery until the Court decides the merits of their Motion to Dismiss.  Essentially, why spend money on starting discovery if the lawsuit will be dismissed.  In a conference between the parties, the defendants asserted a request to stay discovery but the plaintiffs opposed a stipulated stay.  Hence, the motion.

Motion to Stay Discovery by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Similar to the UFC antitrust lawsuit, the company is seeking to stay discovery pending the Court decision.  This makes sense from the defendant’s standpoint.  See if you can save some litigation expense if you can.  From Hunt’s perspective, you need to be as aggressive as you can in starting the process of obtaining discovery.  Thus, you force the Court’s hand to make a decision here.  Hunt wants to obtain discovery because it might obtain information that might aid its claims.  In the alternative, it might obtain information which might need to amend its lawsuit.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Lesnar files own Motion to Dismiss Hunt lawsuit

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

Show Money Episode 15 talks Mayweather-McGregor, Bellator, WME-IMG, Hunt-UFC and more

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.

Lesnar served in Hunt lawsuit

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.

Proof of Service by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

Hunt lawyers fire back at UFC, White

March 22, 2017

Attorneys for Mark Hunt have filed its opposition to Zuffa’s Motion to Dismiss its lawsuit.  It rejects the motion and provides more information on Hunt’s damages.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Opposition to MTD by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

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.

Will UFC’s Belfort gaffe at UFC 152 help Hunt’s RICO claims?

March 11, 2017

As Vitor Belfort heads into the Octagon to face Kelvin Gastelum on Saturday, we take a look at one of the issues brought up in Mark Hunt’s lawsuit: the UFC had information regarding Belfort’s testosterone levels prior to UFC 152.

As we know, Hunt filed a lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar with a variety of legal claims.  Among them was a claim for violation under the civil RICO statute which carries with it treble damages (3x actual damages) if proven at trial.

In his Complaint, Hunt points out that at UFC 152, Zuffa allegedly “willfully concealed” Belfort’s TRT use exemption and that Zuffa allowed him to fight at UFC 152 despite prior knowledge that he had elevated testosterone levels.

In its Motion to Dismiss Mark Hunt’s Complaint, Zuffa addressed the issue of Vitor Belfort’s retroactive TUE use ahead of his fight against Jon Jones in 2012.

The revelation of Belfort’s high testosterone levels was due in part to an inadvertent e-mail blast from a UFC paralegal.

Under federal RICO claims, the e-mail communications constitute acts of wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. sec 1343.  The wire component is an inextricable part of the civil RICO claim.

In addition to the use of emails, Hunt’s attorneys argue that Lesnar’s ESPN appearance with Hannah Storm on June 6, 2016 and also promotions via the internet and television promoting UFC 200 satisfy the wire fraud component of 18 U.S.C. 1343.

Hunt claims that when the UFC allowed Belfort to fight it was in violation of state and federal laws.  Similarly, he claims that his UFC 200 bout with Brock Lesnar was in violation of state and federal laws when it allowed Lesnar to compete against Hunt when it “caused or willfully permitted a doping fighter to compete against HUNT.”  They also cite to Hunt’s fights with Antonio Silva and Frank Mir when both failed post-fight drug tests for banned substances.

According to Hunt’s lawsuit, the conduct represented a “pattern of liberally granting purported use exemptions and other drug testing exemptions, without any additional safeguards to prevent abuse.”

In the UFC’s response to the Belfort claims, it argues that the email has nothing to do with Hunt’s current claim for damages.  Since Hunt was not one of the unintended recipients to the emails, nor did he see it at the time or rely on the emails.  The UFC argues that the communications stemming from Belfort in September 2012 at UFC 152 has nothing to do with Hunt citing he had “zero involvement.”  Thus, it argues that there is no proximate cause to Hunt’s claimed injuries.  Moreover, the UFC argues that the ESPN interview and similar communications were not intended for Hunt, nor did he rely on them to his detriment.  Essentially, UFC frames the communications as “random” and did not “directly cause” Hunt’s alleged personal injuries or lost opportunities.

Hunt argues that the Belfort incident is a part of the pattern of conduct which jeopardize fighter health and safety for the UFC’s profit and shall satisfy the claims under RICO.

Payout Perspective:

Hunt’s attorney citing and re-telling of the Belfort test and the UFC erroneous email is likely a jab at the company to embarrass and color its reputation.  It does create the backdrop for which Hunt brings his lawsuit.  It’s undeniable that Hunt’s last 3 fights have taken PEDs.  It is also clear that Hunt had nothing to do with the Belfort issue at UFC 152.  But, it is not certain whether the incident involving Belfort will be taken as a part of a pattern of conduct by the Court.

Here, the UFC is seeking to dislodge Hunt’s grasp of his RICO claim on the procedural component that Hunt is not directly engaged in these communications, a requisite for his RICO claim.  Thus, the underlying legalities of Belfort’s exemption does not matter, nor does the UFC want to have to explain the situation.

From Hunt’s perspective, they will likely argue that the Belfort situation creates a pattern of conduct that allows fighters using PEDs to fight clean fighters.  This does seem like a hard argument to make but we will see how Hunt’s legal team responds.

Zuffa and White move to dismiss Hunt’s lawsuit

March 1, 2017

Zuffa, LLC and Dana White have filed a Motion to Dismiss Mark Hunt’s lawsuit filed in Nevada.

Brock Lesnar, also a defendant, has yet to respond to Hunt’s lawsuit.

This past January, Hunt filed a lawsuit citing multiple causes of action including federal RICO charges as well as state charges of negligence and fraud.

You may recall that the parties had agreed to allow Zuffa to file a response until February 28th instead of in early February as originally required by law.  Thus, it gave Zuffa extra time to file this Motion to Dismiss.

In its Motion to Dismiss, Zuffa claims that Hunt has no standing to prove a RICO claim.  It notes that Hunt does not point to specifics which would satisfy the requirements.

It comes out swinging taking issue with the organization of Hunt’s lawsuit:

Moreover, Zuffa claims that Hunt’s alleged injuries are subjective.  For example, Zuffa claims Hunt’s claims of lost opportunities from losing to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 are speculative.  This is against RICO laws per cases cited by Zuffa.  Notably, Hunt does not point to a specific title fight, promotional opportunity or marketing opportunity lost which could be linked to his loss to Lesnar.

Zuffa attaches Hunt’s 2016 Promotion Agreement to the motion but it is filed under seal so the public cannot access it.

Interesting enough, Zuffa points out that the Promotional Agreement does not impose a contractual obligation “to provide Hunt with clean opponents.”  Zuffa argues that it is impossible for Zuffa to control any fighter from taking banned substances.

Hunt’s claim for personal injuries are barred argues Zuffa due to his express assumption of the risk contained in his fight contract.  Essentially, Hunt knew of the risks going into the fight and it absolves Zuffa from liability.

Under a Motion to Dismiss standard (FRCP 12(b)(6)), a plaintiff must allege facts that, if taken as true, demonstrate “a plausible entitlement to relief.”

Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout will have more on this as Hunt’s lawyers will need to respond.  From the looks of the lawsuit, Zuffa makes strong arguments as to why the lawsuit should be dismissed.  Some interesting things to note.  Brock Lesnar has not filed a response as the motion is only for defendants Dana White and Zuffa, LLC.  Lesnar needs to respond or Hunt could move for a default.  One has to wonder if the parties have carved out some sort of an agreement with respect to Lesnar.  Zuffa makes its strongest case with respect to the RICO claims.  This might mean that it wants the federal claims kicked so they can move it to state court in Clark County.  Finally, with the issue with USADA and the waiver, why hasn’t it been dragged into the lawsuit?

MMA Payout will continue to monitor.

For the second time, Lesnar retires from UFC

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

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