In 2017 UFC fighter Mark Hunt filed suit against the promotion and Brock Lesnar after Lesnar tested positive for banned substances following their bout at UFC 200.
The lawsuit made numerous allegations of legal wrongdoing but was largely dismissed earlier this year with the court making the controversial finding that UFC fighters implicitly agree to compete against doping competitors. The only allegation that survived was Hunt’s suggestion that the UFC breached their implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing with Hunt.
Last week District Judge Jennifer Dorsey dismissed this final allegation. The reasons for doing so have now been published. Judge Dorsey provided the following reasoning in her decision:
UFC argues that Hunt cannot demonstrate the existence of any recoverable damages because consequential damages are barred under UFC’s Promotional and Ancillary Rights Agreement (PARA) with Hunt. Hunt responds that there is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether UFC’s removal of Hunt from a November 19, 2017, bout breached the implied covenant. And he claims that he suffered damages in the form of wasted training-camp expenses and delayed payment for his fourth fight under the PARA. UFC replies that the training-camp expenses are non-recoverable consequential damages and that Hunt provides no evidence of damages from delayed payment for the fourth bout.
“The party seeking damages has the burden of proving the fact that he was damaged and the amount thereof.” “Generally, the remedy for a breach of the implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing is limited to contractual remedies.” These include consequential damages, which “should be such as may fairly and reasonably be considered as arising naturally, or were reasonably contemplated by both parties at the time they made the contract.” Nevada Revised Statutes § 104.2719(3) provides, however, that “consequential damages may be limited or excluded unless the limitation or exclusion is unconscionable.”
UFC shows an absence of evidence of damages from the breach of the implied covenant by pointing to the PARA, which provided fixed compensation for a certain number of bouts and bars consequential damages, satisfying its initial burden on summary judgment. Hunt responds that his removal from the November 19, 2017, bout caused him damages in the form of training-camp expenses and delayed payment for his fourth fight under the PARA. Hunt offers no evidence of damages resulting from the delayed payment. As for training-camp expenses, Hunt declares that they are “customary, reasonable and foreseeable in the industry of professional mixed martial arts.” Because the training-camp expenses were thus reasonably foreseeably when Hunt and UFC entered into the PARA, they constitute consequential damages and are expressly barred under the PARA. Hunt has thus failed to show to a genuine dispute of fact as to damages.
Hunt also argues that the provision barring consequential damages is unconscionable, but he offers no analysis to support it. In any event, Nevada law specifically permits such provisions, and the Supreme Court of Nevada has upheld a provision limiting recovery of any damages, suggesting that the provision at issue here is not unconscionable. Hunt also argues that the training-camp expenses are compensatory because they are necessary to make him whole. But the contract specifically bars consequential damages, so any remedy to put Hunt in the position he would have occupied but for UFC’s breach must exclude consequential damages. Because Hunt’s breach-of-implied-covenant claim fails as a matter of law, I grant UFC’s motion for summary judgment on this sole remaining claim and close this case.