NY Judge Rules Vagueness Claim Valid in UFC Lawsuit, Dismisses 5 Additional Claims

By Mike Whitman Oct 2, 2013
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The UFC’s fight against New York’s MMA ban is still alive.

District Court Judge Kimba M. Wood granted Monday that the claim of the Las Vegas-based promotion and several of its fighters alleging the ban’s unconstitutional vagueness may move forward. However, Wood also dismissed five additional claims made against New York’s 1997 Combative Sport Ban. Filed in 2011 by the UFC and several of its most prominent fighters, including UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the suit alleges that New York’s ban on MMA:

“(1) violates Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights of expression; (2) is overbroad on its face, in violation of the First Amendment; (3) is unconstitutionally vague, in violation of the Due Process Clause; (4) violates the Equal Protection Clause; (5) lacks a rational basis, in violation of the Due Process Clause; and (6) violates the Commerce Clause.”

Wood also dismissed a claim made by the plaintiffs that a separate 2001 liquor law violates their First Amendment rights of expression, according to court documents posted by FightLawyerBlog.com.

The judge did not, however, dismiss the plaintiff’s claim that the prohibition of MMA is unconstitutionally vague with respect to “(1) professional MMA sanctioned by exempt organizations; (2) the ban’s failure to define “professional” or “amateur,” and the State Athletic Commission’s alleged inconsistent interpretation of these words; and (3) professional MMA events on Indian reservations in New York.”

The UFC Wednesday announced in a press release that the suit will move forward based on the vagueness claim. UFC parent company Zuffa has lobbied for years to have the ban lifted in New York, but bills introduced to overturn the law have died in the State Assembly in four consecutive years.

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