Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small Victory for NYS in the Battle for Regulated MMA

If you have been following this blog you are aware that the ban on live professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in New York State (NYS) is the target of a federal lawsuit spearheaded by Zuffa, LLC (parent company of the UFC) and many other plaintiffs including Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar, Gina Carano, Joe Lozito, and several other professional & amateur fighters, coaches, and fans.
Since Zuffa et al.’s legal team filed the initial complaint last November, there has been a volley of motions and counter arguments all for the eyes of Judge Kimba Wood of the United States District Court (NYS Southern District) who will determine the future of the case. The majority of which have revolved around NYS’s motion to dismiss counts 4 & 5 of the complaint and maintain the ban on live professional MMA in NY.
While most of the media has targeted Zuffa et al.’s assertion that the ban on live professional MMA violates freedom of expression guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, there are several more critical assertions made in the complaint. The complaint asserts that NYS’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution on 7 counts:
Count 1 – The ban is unconstitutional as applied to plaintiffs (1st Amendment)
Meaning: The ban violated guaranteed freedom of expression.

Count 2 – The ban is unconstitutionally overbroad and facially invalid (1st Amendment)
Meaning: The ban is so broadly written that it violates several constitutionally protected rights in addition to freedom of expression.

Count 3 – The ban is unconstitutionally vague (Due Process)
Meaning: The law is so unclearly written that a person of ordinary intelligence cannot know what is prohibited after reading it.

Count 4 – The ban violates plaintiffs’ rights to equal protections of the law (14th Amendment)
Meaning: The law arbitrarily singles out and prohibits MMA while NYS allows equally or more dangerous sports to be legally practiced.

Count 5 – The ban is unconstitutionally irrational (Due Process)
Meaning: The government is intruding on liberty without rational reason.

Count 6 – The ban unconstitutionally restricts interstate commerce (Commerce Clause)

Count 7 – The 2001 liquor law is unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiffs (1st Amendment)
Meaning: In 2001 the NY Alcoholic Beverage Control Law was amended to ban alcohol-serving venues from hosting MMA (both professional and amateur), but not other combative sports such as boxing. This is how the state was able to shut down many amateur MMA shows.

On August 17th, The Fight Lawyer reported that Judge Wood ruled in favor of NYS's motion and ordered a dismissal of counts 4 & 5 of the Zuffa et al. complaint.  While this is a small victory for NYS, the process is far from over. The remaining (some argue more legitimate) counts have yet to be addressed.
To get a more detailed understanding of what all this means, I encourage everyone to read the actual court documents listed here:

Here is a timeline of this blog’s coverage of the suit:
11/17/11 - UFC Spearheaded Lawsuit: Can Zuffa Change its Spots for the Benefit NY MMA?
12/19/11 - New York has Yet to Respond to Zuffa MMA Lawsuit
1/27/12 -   NYS Responds to Zuffa Lawsuit
1/30/12 -   NYS Admits Amateur MMA is not Banned in NY
2/1/12 -     NYS Moves to Uphold Ban on Live Professional MMA 
2/18/12 -   Zuffa et al. Responds to NYS Motion to Dismiss MMA Ban Suit
3/2/12 -     The Continuing Saga: New York's Latest Response to Zuffa et al.'s Federal Suit


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