Reasons for judgement were recently published by the United States District Court in Nevada ordering Mark Hunt to pay the UFC $388,235 in attorney fees and costs in his ongoing doping lawsuit against the UFC. (note – the reasons were signed March 25, 2021. Since that time Hunt partially succeeded in reviving two of his claims against the UFC that were initially dismissed, the claims based on fraud and battery. The remaining claims of unjust enrichment, racketeering, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing remained dismissed after appeal. In short meaning the legal battle is far from over).
In the recent case (Hunt v. Zuffa) the UFC prevailed on several motions to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment. The UFC sought to recover legal fees from Hunt under a clause in his contract with the promotion that has potentially crushing consequences to a fighter who unsuccessfully sues the promotion. The contract notes that a “prevailing party” may recover “its attorneys’ fees and costs” if required to litigate disputes “arising from or related to this Agreement.
Hunt argued it was premature to order costs because of an ongoing appeal in the lawsuit between the parties. The Court, however, gave little weight to this argument noting as follows
“a prompt ruling on attorneys’ fees “best serves the policy against piecemeal appeals,” “prevent[s] hasty consideration of post[-]judgment fee motions,” and minimizes the concern that the “relevant circumstances will no longer be fresh in the mind of the district judge.” While I appreciate Hunt’s professed desire to conserve judicial resources and prevent “the time-consuming task of determining a proper fee award” should he win his appeal, I find that the efficient disposition of this matter is best served by my resolution of UFC’s fee motion. So, I deny Hunt’s request to defer ruling on UFC’s motion until after appeal“
In ordering close to $400,000 in costs and fees the Court summarized its reasons as follows:
Plaintiff Mark Hunt filed this lawsuit against Zuffa, LLC d/b/a Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), its president Dana White, and mixed-martial-arts fighter Brock Lesnar, alleging that UFC violated state and federal law by manipulating its own drug-testing requirements to allow select fighters to use performance-enhancing drugs. After prevailing on several motions to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment, UFC moves for its attorneys’ fees and costs under the prevailing-party provision in the 2016 Promotional and Ancillary Rights Agreement, which governed the parties’ professional relationship…. While Hunt concedes that UFC may seek attorneys’ fees and costs for defending itself against the full complement of Hunt’s claims under the explicit terms of the parties’ agreement, he argues that UFC’s fee request is premature and unreasonable and seeks costs disallowed under federal law. Because I find that UFC is entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs under the parties’ agreement, its request is reasonable, and its motion is ripe, I grant UFC’s motion in its entirety.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that defendant UFC’s renewed motion for attorneys’ fees and costs [ECF No. 193] is GRANTED. Defendants are awarded $301,792.50 in attorneys’ fees and $86,442.72 in costs, for a total of $388,235.22, and the Clerk of Court is directed to ENTER JUDGMENT accordingly