Pacquiao, Arum seek dismissal of Mayweather pay-per-view lawsuits

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao, boxing promoter Bob Arum and their co-defendants have asked the court on Tuesday, September 6 to dismiss all 26 class action lawsuits filed against them in various parts of the United States. 

The lawsuits purportedly represent people who bought tickets for the May 2, 2015 Mayweather vs Pacquiao “Fight of the Century” boxing match in Las Vegas, Nevada and those who bought the pay-per-view telecast for the event.

The cases stemmed from allegations that the defendants intentionally concealed the fact that Pacquiao had suffered a shoulder injury about a month before his match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

The legal cases were filed in the states of California, Florida, Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Illinois,Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and the US territory of Puerto Rico. But in September 2015, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to consolidate the individual lawsuits into Multi-District Litigation No. 239 (Pacquiao-Mayweather Boxing Match Pay-Per-View Litigation) and chose the Central District of California’s Western Division as the venue for hearing the consolidated case. 

In the defendants’ Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion to Dismiss All Complaints submitted to California District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner on September 6, 2016, lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, one of the lead counsels and attorneys for 6 of the 9 defendants, said each of the 26 actions “fails to allege any viable claim” against the defendants. 

“Plaintiffs seek a refund of their ticket and telecast payments because one of the fighters experienced a shoulder injury during training and did not perform as well as Plaintiffs expected. But the unalterable legal truth is that Plaintiffs received exactly what they paid for—an opportunity to see the fight card that night, regardless of whether the fights were ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ whether the participants were ‘100%’ healthy, or whether Plaintiffs would have purchased anything had they been told one fighter had injured his shoulder in training,” the lawyer said. 

The defendants being represented in the memorandum include Pacquiao, Arum, Top Rank, Inc., Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz, and Home Box Office (HBO). Other defendants in the case are Mayweather, Mayweather Promotions, LLC, and Showtime Networks, which organized the pay-per-view with HBO. 

Petrocelli said that while Pacquiao injured his shoulder during training, he had seen orthopedic specialists who diagnosed, treated, and cleared him to fight. He said Pacquiao’s camp also notified the Nevada State Athletic Commission about his injury at least 3 hours before the fight, prompting the commission to examine him and eventually deemed him fit to enter the ring.

The defense lawyer also debunked plaintiffs’ arguments that the defendants were aware that Pacquiao injured his shoulder during training camp and had legal duty to disclose this to the public but failed to do so. Also addressed was the argument that plaintiffs paid money to watch the boxing match either live or on pay-per-view television without knowing about Pacquiao’s training injury but had defendants disclosed such fact, plaintiffs would not have paid to see the fight. 

“This theory suffers from the same critical failing that defeated every other disappointed fan case: Plaintiffs have not alleged, and cannot allege, a legally cognizable

injury. One who purchases a ticket to see a sporting event live or on television buys ‘nothing more than a revocable license’ to view the event at the scheduled time and place… Plaintiffs admit, as they must, they saw the entire boxing card that night, including the Fight. Every Plaintiff therefore got exactly what he, she, or it paid for—and, thus, suffered no legally cognizable injury,” he said. 

The lawyer cited the ruling of the New York Appellate Court in 2000 on Castillo v. Tyson case wherein plaintiffs sought a refund for tickets and pay-per-view fees because boxer Mike Tyson allegedly “formulated a scheme” and had a “premeditated plan” to be disqualified rather than suffer a potentially career-ending defeat against Evander Holyfiled in their June 28, 1997 heavyweight title rematch.

The New York’s Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of the class action lawsuit on the Tyson-Holyfield match because plaintiffs “received what they paid for, namely, the right to view whatever event transpired.”   

The plaintiffs in MDL No. 239 also allege that Pacquiao and Koncz failed to make certain disclosures in a questionnaire submitted to Nevada State Athletic Commission the day before the fight by not putting the check sign to the questions asking if Pacquiao “had suffered a shoulder injury” or “had any serious medical illnesses or conditions.” 

But Petrocelli argued that the questionnaire had no relevance to plaintiffs’ claims, as they had admitted that it was not made public or expected to be made public until after the fight, thus, “no statements or omissions in the questionnaire were relied on, or even could have been relied on, by any plaintiff or affected any plaintiff’s purchasing decision.” 

Citing precedents, he said the defendants had no duty to publicly disclose an athlete’s private health information prior to a sporting event and that spectators cannot reasonably expect to be made privy to an athlete’s doctor visits, diagnoses, or medical condition. He said the law has entrusted state athletic commissions with jurisdiction to declare fighters fit to fight—or not fit to fight. 

“Moreover, it is common knowledge that athletes generally—and boxers in particular—compete with injuries, and reasonable viewers recognize that athletes do not publicly reveal such information before competing because doing so would give their opponent an undue advantage. As one commentator that Plaintiffs cite put it: ‘making the injury public was like putting a target on it for Mayweather.’ Because it is objectively unreasonable to expect such disclosures, Defendants had no obligation to make them,” the lawyer said. 

The other lawyers representing Pacquiao, Arum, duBoef, Knocz, Top Rank and HBO are Jeffrey Barker, David Marroso, Esteban Rodriguez and the O’Melveny & Myers LLP. – Rappler.com