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.

Court allows discovery to continue in part in Mark Hunt lawsuit

December 6, 2017

The Court in the Mark Hunt lawsuit has ordered that discover to continue with respect to all claims except for his RICO claims in his First Amended Complaint until the determination of the Motion to Dismiss filed by Zuffa/Dana White and Brock Lesnar.

The 3-page ruling indicated that discovery (requests for documents and answering of questions) related to Hunt’s RICO claims against the UFC and White.  However, the other claims including breach of contract and battery (for Brock Lesnar) may proceed forward.

Order on Motion to Stay Discovery in part in Hunt case by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The Court notes the changes made from the original Complaint from the First Amended Complaint including changes in the breach of contract claim and the battery claim.  According to the case law cited by the Court, it may stay discovery from a “preliminary peek,” initially a cursory scan of the Motion to Dismiss to determine whether it might win on the merits and dismiss the need for discovery.

The Court was not convinced from its “preliminary peek” at the motion to dismiss that it will certainly be granted for all claims.

Payout Perspective:

If you think the peek is awkward because it provides foresight into a potential outcome of the actual motion, you are not alone.  However, this is the legal authority that is followed.  A minor win for Hunt as this might precipitate a settlement between the parties so that the UFC will not have to spend money on discovery.  Yet, the Court may decide the Motion to Dismiss at any point.  One might suspect that since the Order was issued for the stay in December for a motion to stay that took place in July, it may take more time for the Court to decide the Motion to Dismiss.

White responds to Hunt’s comments after taken off of Sydney card

October 30, 2017

Dana White responded to Mark Hunt’s comments after he was taken off the Sydney card next month.  In a letter to the Daily Telegraph he claims to have offered to fly Hunt to Las Vegas to get checked out.

Hunt was taken off of the UFC Fight Night 121 card after an article he wrote detailed issues with sleep and memory related to his career of fighting.

A portion of the letter reads:

My team contacted his [Hunt’s] management within the first week of learning about these symptoms and offered to fly him to Las Vegas first class to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center — which is the best in the world for brain research — to get more tests done. And you know what? He absolutely refused.

White went on to explain that he could not have him in the Octagon with knowledge that Hunt had health issues.  He noted that Hunt had yet to be cleared to fight on the Sydney card.

Payout Perspective:

The UFC really had no option here especially with athlete head injuries being in the news.  White’s response makes sense and if it is true that Hunt turned down the opportunity to get checked out, then it makes Hunt look bad.  Of course, the two sides are currently in a lawsuit where physical injuries are still being claimed so perhaps Hunt’s attorneys do not want him to avail to a medical examination at this point.  What will be interesting will be how all of this will factor in the pending lawsuit between Hunt, the UFC, Brock Lesnar and Dana White.

Hunt’s attorneys file opposition to dismissing his First Amended Complaint against UFC, White and Lesnar

July 19, 2017

Attorneys for Mark Hunt have filed their opposition brief to Zuffa, Dana White and Brock Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss his First Amended Complaint.  In the brief, they cite specific instances in which they addressed the court’s concerns regarding their allegations.

The brief specifically claims that it has provided adequate information on damages and a proximate cause to go forward with its Civil RICO claim.

Plaintiffs Opposition to MTD FAC by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Hunt addresses the court’s concerns with respect to the Civil RICO claim alleged by Hunt.  They rely on a case, Mendoza vs. Zirkle Fruit, Co., in which the defendants in that case sought to manipulate the work force by hiring undocumented laborers to depress wages of documented workers.  In this case, Hunt’s lawyers argue that the UFC and White wrongfully manipulated the market to depress wages of clean fighters by hiring doping fighters.

They also cite the Mendoza case to dispel the Defendants’ argument that there could be other plausible proximate causation for Hunt’s alleged damages.  They claim Mendoza did not dismiss the plaintiffs’ civil RICO claims although there were alternative theories to the damages from the plaintiffs.  Thus, as Hunt relies on Mendoza, the Court cannot dismiss Hunt’s civil RICO claim solely because there are alternative or intervening causes for Hunt’s financial losses.

Also in his brief, regarding his Breach of Contract claim, Hunt argues the clause in the New Zealander’s contract which states that Zuffa shall be bound by the rules and regulations of the Athletic Commission was breached.  In the first hearing on dismissing the original complaint, the Court questioned what specific part of the contract Hunt alleged was breach as it was not clear to the Court from the original complaint.

 

Payout Perspective:

We detailed the Court hearing and how the Judge was skeptical about Hunt’s claims.  We shall see if the arguments supplied in this Opposition Brief persuades the Court that the First Amended Complaint has changed.  In this brief, Hunt argues that it should be entitled to a shot at discovery, which is being challenged in a different motion.  It also requests another shot at amending the complaint if the Court determines the allegations are not sufficient.  We shall see how that goes.  .

 

 

Hunt’s attorneys oppose Lesnar motion to stay discovery

July 18, 2017

Mark Hunt’s legal counsel has filed an opposition for Motion to Stay Discovery against Defendant Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar’s counsel has requested a stay of discovery pending their Motion to Dismiss of Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.  The UFC and Dana White have filed a similar Motion to Stay Discovery which would prohibit the exchange of information between parties until the Court rules on the Motions to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.

Hunt’s attorneys argue that they should be allowed to conduct non-RICO discovery which centers around UFC 200 as a compromise to Lesnar.  They point out that 2 of the 7 claims against Lesnar relate to RICO and the other claims do not.  Hence, Hunt should be given the opportunity to investigate his case against Lesnar.  They also claim that Lesnar’s attorneys have not complied with the rule in which the parties are to “meet and confer” in trying to resolve discovery disputes.

Of course, Lesnar opposes this due to the time and expense involved in conducting discovery.  According to Hunt’s attorney, they declined the opportunity to provide initial disclosures and limited fact-discovery of non-RICO claims.  Instead, they informed Hunt that they would file a motion to stay discovery.

Payout Perspective:

From Lesnar’s perspective, it makes sense to avoid the time and expense of providing discovery.  Since Lesnar is likely paying for the defense of the lawsuit himself, it might be an unnecessary cost if the Court decides to dismiss the case.  Yet, Hunt’s attorneys want to push their client’s case since they believe that there is a case and do not want to waste time.  They also appear, at least from a high level, accommodating in stating that they would hold off on RICO-related discovery.  Courts try not to get involved in discovery fights but it seems as though Lesnar’s attorneys want a ruling.  This could all be moot if the Court rules on the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.

Extension granted in Hunt Motion to Dismiss FAC

July 13, 2017

Mark Hunt lawyers received an extension in filing their opposition brief to the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.

The original deadline to file an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint was this past Monday, July 10th.

Stipulation to Extend Time to Respond to Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

According to the Stipulation agreed to by the parties and signed off by the Court, lead counsel for Hunt is going on a pre-planned vacation and another had just come back from a vacation and will be in deposition which will not allow them an opportunity to “prepare a meaningful and adequate response.”

If you haven’t checked it out, I took a look at the first hearing.

Payout Perspective:

The parties agreed to the one-week extension and the Court signed off on it.  While one might think that a vacation is not a valid excuse, Hunt’s attorneys previously stipulated to an extension.  Courts like for the parties to settle these things without judicial intervention.  Also, it is “civil” litigation.  It is frowned upon when there are known dates such as pre-planned vacations and/or holidays and parties file motions with the intent that it annoys the opposing so as to work during these times.  While its understood that deadlines are not always extended, the parties were able to work this one out.

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