Zuffa requests court to review Hunt ruling in antitrust case

August 29, 2018

Zuffa has filed a Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Authority regarding its Motion to Seal related materials in its Summary Judgment motion of Plaintiffs’ lawsuit in their antitrust case.

The supplemental authority is the recent ruling in the Mark Hunt case on Zuffa’s “Renewed” Motion to Seal Documents in that case.  The court previously denied the Motion to Seal but changed course in granting the “Renewed” Motion.  It should be noted that Hunt’s attorneys did not oppose the “Renewed” motion for some reason.

This Motion hopes to include this ruling in deciding the pending motion before the court in the Antitrust matter. They persuasively argue that Plaintiffs had referred to the previous Hunt ruling where the Court denied the sealing of records.  As Zuffa points out in this motion, the original order was “without prejudice” whereas the renewed motion was “with prejudice.”  The difference with or without prejudice is that “without” prejudice means that the ruling could be amended on a party’s motion.  With prejudice is the final ruling of the Court.

Supplemental Authority After Hunt by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

The Hunt ruling, although I disagree with the outcome, will likely be considered in the antitrust case as it relates to similar documents.  Thus, the motion will be granted, and the Court will consider it as persuasive authority when determining whether or not to unseal the redacted materials by Zuffa.

Court changes course, rules in favor of Zuffa to seal and redact docs in Mark Hunt case

August 21, 2018

The Court in the Mark Hunt lawsuit against Zuffa, Dana White and Brock Lesnar granted Zuffa’s Renewed Motion to File Exhibits Under Seal and To Redact a Portion of Their Reply Brief.

Notably, Plaintiff did not file a response to oppose the “renewed motion.”  Originally, the court denied Zuffa’s request which seeks to seal and redact portions of the 2017 Promotional Agreement with Hunt.  The Court ruled that since this is a dispositive motion (a motion that may bring an end to the lawsuit), the party seeking to seal the record “must articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure…”  Included in the request to redact documents, the Zuffa Dana White attached Hunt’s Bout Agreement for UFC 200 and other Bout Agreements from previous fights on as exhibits to its Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.  Denial of its Motion to Seal these documents presumptively means that they would be available for public viewing.

Order on Renewed Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Zuffa “Renewed” its motion although it did not cite to specific and compelling reasons to seal or redact. It did argue that it was “sensitive commercial information of the parties, the disclosure of which would cause the parties harm and jeopardize their competitive standing in the professional MMA industry.”

In the only two sentences which enlightens the reader on the rationale for the decision, the Court states, “[D]efendants claim that the agreements contain proprietary information, and that competitive standing with MMA promoters.  The court finds that defendants have identified compelling reasons that warrant sealing the exhibits…”  This explanation does not seem compelling at all.

 Payout Perspective:

This is a surprising and disappointing ruling from the perspective that the Court rationale was limited and did not offer up an explanation as to what had changed from its original ruling.  It also promotes the further practice of sealing and redacting based on vague notions that the information is “sensitive commercial information.”  It also may impact the Zuffa Antitrust lawsuit as that case is also in a battle with redaction of Zuffa business information.

Zuffa “Renews” its Motion to Seal in Mark Hunt case

August 12, 2018

Zuffa has “Renewed” its Motion to Seal Exhibits in its Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Supplemental Complaint.  The Court originally denied Zuffa’s Motion to Seal but it now requests the Court once again.

Similar to a Motion for Reconsideration except Zuffa styles the Motion as a “Renewed” Motion.  In most instances, filing a Motion for Reconsideration requires new evidence not considered by the Court to prevail.   A “Renewed” Motion appears to be the same thing.

According to the Motion, it requests the Court to have the documents to remain sealed until the Court determines the results of it.  Originally, the Court was to release the documents on August 6.  Based upon a Pacer search, it appears that the Court is honoring this request.

The Court originally denied Zuffa’s Motion to Seal which included, among other things,  Hunt’s Bout Agreement for his fight with Derrick Lewis.  They also request to seal a Promotional and Ancillary Rights Agreement and a Letter of Agreement between Zuffa and Hunt from August 8, 2014.  According to Zuffa, the agreements are predecessors to the 2016 Promotional Agreement.  Additionally, there are “three Bout Agreements for different events that took place pursuant to the terms of the parties’ 2016 Promotional Agreement.”  Zuffa claims that these are “sensitive commercial information of the parties, the disclosure of which would cause the parties harm and jeopardize their competitive standing in the professional MMA industry.”

Renewed Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Remember when Demi Moore’s character in “A Few Good Men” ‘strenuously objected’ after the Judge’s objection was overruled.  This situation is the same thing.  There is no real reason that a Court would rethink a previous ruling unless something arose post-ruling.  But, that does not appear to be the case here.  If the Court were to rethink its ruling, one might expect an appeal from Hunt’s attorneys.  This will be a ruling that the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Zuffa Antitrust Case will be looking at with interest as well as the lawyers in Leslie Smith’s NLRB case.  The reveal of contractual information as to how MMA fighters are paid is a secretive process and unlike wage scales in other sports, payouts in the UFC are held close to the vest.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Court denies UFC’s request to seal Promotional Agreement in Mark Hunt lawsuit

July 23, 2018

The Court in the Mark Hunt lawsuit against Zuffa, Dana White and Brock Lesnar denied a motion for leave to file exhibits under seal.  The defendants’ motion (specifically White and the UFC) sought to seal and redact portions of the 2016 Promotional Agreement with the UFC Heavyweight.

The Court denied the request citing that the public has a right to inspect and copy judicial records.  It relied upon the presumption that the records are publicly accessible. The party seeking to seal “bears the burden of overcoming this strong presumption.”  The Court makes the distinction that since this is a dispositive motion (a motion that may bring an end to the lawsuit), the party seeking to seal the record “must articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure…”

The UFC and Dana White attached Hunt’s Bout Agreement for UFC 200 and other Bout Agreements from previous fights on as exhibits to its Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.  Denial of its Motion to Seal these documents presumptively means that they would be available for public viewing.

The U.S. Magistrate denied the order and barring an immediate appeal will unseal the documents filed in their motions to dismiss in 14 days.

Order on Motion to Seal by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

This is a good ruling for those interested in the case and public access to court records.  Notably, the UFC is fighting to maintain records sealed in its Antitrust lawsuit filed by former fighters.  In that case, they argue that there is trade secrets/financial information that is confidential.  The Court should apply the standard here which requires a burden of overcoming the presumption is publicly accessible.  For the Hunt case, it will be an interesting look (not since the Eddie Alvarez lawsuit) into the terms of a current UFC bout agreement.

Hunt allowed to include removal from UFC Fight Night 121 in his lawsuit against UFC

February 8, 2018

The court in the Mark Hunt-UFC/Dana White/Brock Lesnar lawsuit has granted Hunt the opportunity to Supplement his lawsuit to include facts about his removal from UFC Fight Night 121.

   Order on Supplemental Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

In finding for Hunt, the court stated that Defendants’ argument in precluding the filing a supplemental complaint was that the allegations were false.  Secondly, they argue that the accusations are distinctly different from the lawsuit.  The Court denied both arguments.

Payout Perspective:

As we stated, this was the likely result as the Court would be willing to include the additional information in order to properly litigate the entire case rather than piecemeal.  The factual claims serve as to bolster Hunt’s causes of action.  It also forces Defendants to address the allegations as it tries to dismiss the lawsuit.

Scheduling Order issued in Hunt lawsuit, no trial date set

January 10, 2018

The parties in the Mark Hunt lawsuit have agreed to a scheduling order.  The scheduling order followed a required meeting of counsel via teleconference last Wednesday.

There is no trial date as of yet.  The order states that Zuffa and White are scheduled to begin trial in another case starting on April 16, 2018 with an estimated time of six months.  Also, due to the fact that Hunt lives in Australia, the parties have requested a special scheduling review.

Notably, the parties will conduct fact discovery in two phases.  The first phase will be written discovery on “all non-RICO claims.”  The second phase will be “non-written discovery and RICO claims, subject to the pending motions to dismiss, the outcome of which will likely necessitate the parties revisiting the scope and determining of discovery and corresponding deadlines.”

Scheduling Order by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

The initial disclosure of witnesses will occur on January 31st.  The cutoff for discovery will not occur unitl October 1st.  The deadline for summary judgments (aka dispositive motions) is October 31, 2018.  So, assuming that the defendants Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint is denied, we should be looking for a trial sometime in late 2018, early 2019.

Mark Hunt files Reply to UFC and Dana White’s Opposition to Motion to Supplement

January 8, 2018

Mark Hunt’s attorneys have responded to Zuffa and Dana White’s Opposition to its request to supplement its First Amended Complaint.

Hunt argues that the standard for supplementing is quite liberal to allow for “complete relief in one action.”  Hunt’s attorneys state that the alternative would be for Hunt to file a separate complaint which he infers would be duplicitous and a waste.

The central argument from Defendants according to Hunt is that the additional facts would be “futile” to the lawsuit.  Hunt points to its claim for the breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and amended breach of contract claim which survived the original motion to dismiss.  They note that the fight camp damages estimated at $100,000 and lost fight purse would directly be attributed to the breach of contract claim.

Reply to Motion to Supplement – Hunt by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

As we previously noted, Brock Lesnar, also a party to this lawsuit, has not responded to this motion. The Reply Brief submitted by Hunt stresses the liberal nature in which the rules allow for supplementing the lawsuit with additional information.  While Zuffa and White argued that the supplementation is pure surplusage, Hunt argues that the supplemental information related to his removal from UFC Fight Night 121 contributes to his original claims.  It’s likely we’ll see the decision of this motion prior to the Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.

Zuffa and Dana White file opposition to Mark Hunt’s inclusion of Fight Night Removal in his complaint

January 3, 2018

Zuffa and Dana White have responded to Mark Hunt’s Motion to Supplement his First Amended Complaint and request the court deny the motion.  While the rule is liberal for parties to amend and supplement pleadings, Zuffa and White argue that Hunt’s supplementation of information here would be “futile.”

Hunt filed the motion so that it may include factual information related to his claim that he was unfairly taken off of UFC Fight Night 121.  The UFC and White argue that there was no choice but to remove him from the card due to his op-ed piece claiming physical maladies suffered from years of fighting.  “Faced with such concerning statements from a fighter about his neurological health, Zuffa had no choice but to pull Hunt from the upcoming fight card until it could assure itself, athletic commission regulators, and the public that Hunt was, in fact, medically fit to fight.”

Zuffa and the UFC claim that the new allegations from Hunt have nothing to add to his claims.  Defendants, as you might expect, believe that the claims are defective and supplementing it with more facts would not add or bolster the claim.

Despite filing the lawsuit, the UFC brings up that Hunt has been paid “more than $1.5 million” for competing in two bouts.  Thus, the inference that there is no correlation between the suit and being taken off of the scheduled bout.  Specifically, it has nothing to add to the RICO claims.  “Hunt’s new allegations about being wrongfully removed from UFC Fight Night 121 are not even premised on his underlying RICO allegations that Zuffa had engaged in a pattern and scheme to allow doping fighters to compete against clean fighters.   They [the proposed supplemental facts] are, instead, premised on the entirely new theory that Zuffa retaliated against him for having filed the instant lawsuit.”

The UFC also argues that the Breach of Contract would not be impacted as the Promotional Agreement limits the type of damages that are recoverable.  Even though Hunt claims $100,000 in damages for his training camp.

   UFC Opposition to Motion to Supplement by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Brock Lesnar’s attorney has not filed an opposition or joined (meaning Lesnar can just add their name to the motion) this one.  The opposition is artfully pled and poses very good arguments but its unlikely that the court will deny Hunt’s motion to supplement its First Amended Complaint.  While there are cases that will support the argument for denying supplemental facts, the amending and supplementing of pleadings are liberal to ensure that the litigation of the case is complete.  It also prevents unnecessary appeals.  Moreover, the court knows that defendants will get another shot at dismissing the supplementation of information in the First Amended Complaint when it files its Motion to Dismiss (or at the summary judgment stage if it is not defeated initially).  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

MPO Year in Review: No. 5 Mark Hunt sues the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar

December 29, 2017

In January, Mark Hunt filed a lawsuit against Zuffa, Dana White and Brock Lesnar from his loss at UFC 200 to the returning WWE star and subsequent revelation that Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance on the UFC anti-doping policy.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nevada, was unique as it included allegations of civil violations of the RICO Act as well as a claim for negligence and breach of contract.  In most instances, a plaintiff cannot claim both tort damages and from those arising for a contract.  Here, Hunt was claiming because the UFC allowed Lesnar to fight with the knowledge that he may have been taking steroids, any injury arising from the fight should be treated as a personal injury.

Serving Lesnar the lawsuit, a requisite in civil litigation, was a difficult task and he was not served until March.  Howard Jacobs represents Lesnar in this lawsuit.

In May, the Court heard the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.  We took a deep dive into the hearing as the transcript was made available to the public.  The Court allowed the lawsuit to stand but left it open for the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint as it highlighted at the hearing, that certain claims such as the RICO claims were speculative.

Yet, in Hunt’s First Amended Complaint, he included the RICO cause of action.  As with the first Complaint, The Defendant’s filed another Motion to Dismiss, this time, to dismiss the First Amended Complaint.

The Defendants had hoped that they could stay discovery pending the result from the Court of the Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint.  However, the Court has ordered that discovery may commence related to all of Hunt’s claims except his RICO allegations.

The plot to this lawsuit continued as Hunt fought for the company he was suing in March of this year.  He lost via KO at UFC 209 to Alistair Overeem.  This past fall, he made more news when he wrote an article for a web site where he admitted memory loss and slurring his words.  The UFC took Hunt off the UFC Fight Night 121 card in November when it learned of the article.  This incensed Hunt but White stood his ground in citing that he needed to be checked out to be cleared to fight.

Hunt recently requested that he supplement his First Amended Complaint to include facts about how he believes he was unjustly taken off of UFC Fight Night 121 in Australia.  Likely, the UFC will deny allegations of wrongdoing and will cite taking him off the card as a precautionary measure and they were willing to have him checked out to ensure he was healthy enough to fight.

This is a unique lawsuit that has not trial date and thus the ending is open.  The curious thing is that Hunt remains a fighter for the company and one of the highest paid non-champions on the roster.  It will be interesting to see what information might be pulled from discovery that would put the UFC in a false light but I am sure that what items might be pulled will yield to a settlement between the parties.  If not, we could be heading toward a very contentious court battle.

Hunt lawyers seek to include facts about UFC pulling him from Fight Night 121 in lawsuit

December 18, 2017

On Friday, Mark Hunt’s lawyer filed a motion to supplement its First Amended Complaint according to court papers.  The supplemented information appears to include his “unilateral removal (for pretextual reasons) from UFC’s November 2017 “UFC Fight Night 121” card.  Hunt claim’s he “incurred in excess of $100,000.00 in damages for the cost of his pre-fight training camp and related expenses, in addition to the lost fight purse.”

Hunt is requesting the supplement to add factual allegations supporting existing claims.  The supplementation may give rise to further legal wranglings from Zuffa, Dana Whtie and Brock Lesnar since the three have motions to dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.  Essentially, the defendants may argue that supplementing the First Amended Complaint with additional factual content impacts the existing motion to dismiss which is pending Court decision.

The removal from the recent Fight Night is the result of Hunt’s article in an Australian web site that he had memory loss and slurred speech related to fighting.  After the article was released, the UFC took him off of UFC Fight Night 121 in Australia due to concerns about his health.  The UFC indicated that Hunt could be checked out at the Lou Ruvo Brain Center but Hunt refused according to Dana White.  Hunt stated that he had the tests done in Sydney instead of Las Vegas where the brain center is located.  According to Hunt, the tests were negative.

Mark Hunt’s Motion to Supplement First Amended Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Proposed Supplemental First Amended Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

 

Payout Perspective:

The supplemented information to his First Amended Complaint is a procedural matter which Zuffa has the opportunity to object to the supplemented complaint.  The additional information that Hunt would like included in his First Amended Complaint would bolster the alleged claim under the RICO Act since one of the requisites deals with a scheme over interstate lines via “wire, radio or television.”  If the Court allows the supplemental information, you’d expect Zuffa to argue that it has to retool its Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint to address the new facts.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

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