Couture Litigation Grows More Complex
The legal war between Randy
Couture (Pictures), Zuffa and HDNet Fights continues
to heat up with the parties engaged in an increasingly complex set
of litigation that includes two separate lawsuits, in Nevada and
Texas respectively, and now an arbitration proceeding in
On March 7, Zuffa filed for arbitration on Couture's promotional
contract, pursuant to the terms of the agreement, in Nevada
district court. The action marks the first time that Zuffa has
formally made the promotional contract the issue of legal
According to Zuffa, the proceeding will "necessarily require
resolution of disputes between Zuffa and Couture over key terms of
the promotional agreement," including those at issue in the HDNet
Fights declaratory judgment action in Texas state court.
The action also continues in Texas. On March 13, Zuffa filed a
notice of removal to federal district court in HDNet's declaratory
judgment action brought against the company in Texas district court
The stated ground for removal, and the basis for federal
jurisdiction, is diversity of citizenship. Federal law provides
jurisdiction to federal courts in matters in which the plaintiff
and defendant are not residents or citizens of the same state. When
diversity of citizenship exists in a suit filed in state court, the
defendant may choose to remove the case to federal court.
However, it appears that diversity of citizenship has been
destroyed by a clever legal move on the part of HDNet.
HDNet MMA 2008 is actually a Nevada LLC, formed on Dec. 28, rather
than a Texas LLC, as previously assumed. The citizenship of an LLC
is determined by the citizenship of its members, which in this case
is HDNet Sports Inc., a Nevada corporation formed on Feb. 1.
Because HDNet MMA 2008, Zuffa and Randy Couture (Pictures) are all technically citizens of
Nevada for federal jurisdictional purposes, diversity of
citizenship would appear to be destroyed.
Zuffa alleges that these efforts represent an attempt by HDNet to
"manipulate the court's jurisdiction."
"These actions were designed to deprive Zuffa of its statutory
right to remove this action to [federal court] and prevent the
parties to the contract at issue in the declaratory judgment action
(Zuffa and Couture) from litigating their disputes in the
contractually agreed upon Nevada forum," alleged Zuffa in court
filings obtained by Sherdog.com.
"Because HDNet MMA 2008 was incorporated in Nevada for the improper
purpose of circumventing diversity jurisdiction, this court should
disregard the Nevada citizenship of HDNet MMA 2008 for purposes of
determining the existence of diversity jurisdiction and retain
jurisdiction over this action," argues Zuffa in its motion for
In response, HDNet says Zuffa's "only argument for diversity
jurisdiction is that the court should disregard the admitted
diversity and examine the parties' motives, an argument which this
court expressly rejected in [a 2004 case]."
HDNet goes on to say the "removal is nothing more than a bald-faced
tactic to slow down this case in favor of a later-filed action or
to ensure that HDNet's fight cannot happen."
On March 18, HDNet filed a motion to remand the case to Texas state
court and asked for expedited proceedings, which the court granted.
Zuffa has until March 28 to respond. HDNet may then submit a reply,
if any, by April 1.
According to the filings obtained by Sherdog.com, HDNet hopes to
promote Couture vs. Fedor
Emelianenko (Pictures) in October of this year.
Meanwhile, on March 25 in the 8th Judicial District of Nevada,
Couture's motion to dismiss was denied in Zuffa v. Couture -- the
state court action concerning his employment contract.
An order was also recently entered that softened the language of
the preliminary injunction granted by the court last month. Couture
is allowed to corner fighters, and fighters may wear Xtreme Couture
Adam Swift is the Editor of MMAPayout.com and a regular contributor to
GRRRR!!!More on Sherdog.com Mobile