Middendorf Sports v. Top Rank, Inc. et al
ORDER - IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Filing No. 39 ) is denied. Ordered by Magistrate Judge Susan M. Bazis. (TCL)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
MIDDENDORF SPORTS, a Maryland Sole
TOP RANK, INC., a Nevada corporation; and
TERENCE CRAWFORD, an individual;
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel (Filing No. 39). The
motion will be denied.
In 2010, TKO Boxing Promotions, LLC (“TKO”) and Defendant Terence Crawford
(“Crawford”) entered into a Promotional Rights Agreement (“TKO Promotional Rights
Agreement”) under which TKO was to promote and stage boxing bouts involving Crawford.
TKO and Top Rank entered into an Agreement and Release concerning Crawford’s promotional
rights on or about June 30, 2011. The Agreement and Release provides, in part, that “[f]or each
Title Defense . . . of [Crawford’s] promoted by Top Rank pursuant to the Promotional Rights
Agreement, TKO shall be paid a fee equal to eight percent (8%) of the purse payable to
[Crawford] for such Title Defense.” (Filing No. 52.)
In June, 2011, Top Rank and Crawford entered into a Promotional Rights Agreement
(“Top Rank Promotional Rights Agreement”). In July, 2011, TKO executed a Notice of Agreed
Assignment of Rights, which assigned its rights under the Agreement and Release to Plaintiff. In
September, 2014, Top Rank and Crawford entered into an Exclusive Restated Promotional
Rights Agreement (“Top Rank Exclusive Restated Promotional Rights Agreement”) under which
Top Rank would continue to provide promotional services to Crawford.
On January 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit against Top Rank, alleging that Top Rank
breached the Agreement and Release by failing to pay the fee for certain fights involving
Crawford. (Filing No. 1.) Plaintiff claims that the Agreement and Release does not contain a
termination date and, therefore, Top Rank remains obligated to pay Plaintiff. Among other
things, Plaintiff requests a declaratory judgment “regarding the scope and duration scope of the
Agreement and Release.” (Filing Nos. 1, 52.)
In response to Plaintiff’s allegations, Top Rank contends that it was only obligated to pay
Plaintiff a fee for Crawford’s title defenses that Top Rank promoted pursuant to the Top Rank
Promotional Rights Agreement.
(Filing No. 42.)
Top Rank asserts that the Top Rank
Promotional Rights Agreement terminated on September 16, 2014 or, at the very latest, July 30,
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36, a party may serve on any other party a
written request to admit the truth of any matters within the scope of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 26(b)(1) relating to facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either. Fed.
R. Civ. P. 36. The purpose of Rule 36 is “to expedite trial by eliminating the necessity of
proving undisputed issues and thus narrowing the range of issues for trial.” Fisher v. Baltimore
Life Ins. Co., 235 F.R.D. 617, 623 (N.D. W. Va. 2006) (quotation and citation omitted).
Still, “[r]equests for admission are properly objectionable when they call for a conclusion
of one of the ultimate issues in the case . . . Where issues in dispute are requested to be admitted,
a denial is a perfectly reasonable response.” Streck, Inc. v. Research & Diagnostic Sys., Inc., No.
8:06CV458, 2009 WL 1616629, *2 (D. Neb. June 4, 2009) (quoting Williamson v. Correctional
Med. Serv., No. 06-379, 2009 WL 1364350, *2 (D. Del. May 14, 2009)). Moreover, “[e]ven
though a request may be phrased to appear factual, if it encroaches on legal turf, or reaches the
ultimate decision of the court, the request will be seen as seeking a legal conclusion and cannot
be compelled.” Phillip N. Adams & Assoc., LLC v. Dell, Inc., No. L05-CV-64, 2007 WL
128962, *2 (D. Utah Jan. 11, 2007).
Plaintiff served Requests for Admission and Interrogatories upon Top Rank on April 3,
2017. (Filing No. 41-1.) Top Rank objected to Request for Admission Nos. 5 and 6, as well as
Interrogatory Nos. 1 and 2, on the ground that they call “for a conclusion on one of the ultimate
issues in the case.” (Id.) Request for Admission No. 5 sought an admission that “Exhibit A [the
Agreement and Release] does not have a date terminating the Agreement.” (Id.) Request for
Admission No. 6 requested an admission that “according to Exhibit A [the Agreement and
Release], Top Rank is responsible to pay Plaintiff 8% of Terence Crawford’s purse after each of
Terence Crawford’s title defenses.” (Id.) Interrogatory Nos. 1 and 2 requested explanations in
the event that Request for Admission Nos. 5 and 6 were denied. Subject to its objection, Top
Rank responded to Interrogatory No. 1 as follows:
Subject to and without waiving the foregoing objections, pursuant to paragraph 5
of the Agreement and Release, Top Rank was obligated to pay eight percent (%)
of Crawford’s purse for each Title Defense promoted pursuant to the Promotional
Rights Agreement. The Promotional Rights Agreement terminated on September
16, 2014 when Top Rank and Crawford entered into the Exclusive Restated
Promotional Rights Agreement, which expressly superseded and replaced the
Promotional Rights Agreement referenced in paragraph 5 of the Agreement and
Release. Had the Promotional Rights Agreement not terminated on September
16, 2014, the Promotional Rights Agreement (and, in turn, Top Rank’s obligation
to pay eight percent (8%) of Crawford’s purse for each Title Defense under the
Agreement and Release) would have expired by its own terms on July 30, 2016.
(Id.) Again, subject to its objection, in response to Interrogatory No. 2, Top Rank stated that it
“was only obligated to pay eight percent (8%) of Crawford’s purse for each Title Defense
promoted pursuant to the Promotional Rights Agreement.” (Id.)
Plaintiff claims that the length of time in which Top Rank was obligated to pay Plaintiff
under the Agreement and Release is a factual question and, thus, the Requests for Admission and
Interrogatories are proper. The Court disagrees. The primary question presented in this case
involves the scope and duration of the Agreement and Release. Request Nos. 5 and 6 seek
admissions that (1) the Agreement and Release does not have a termination date and (2) Top
Rank is obligated to pay Plaintiff a percentage of Crawford’s purse after each title defense.
These Requests are clearly improper as they seek an analysis and interpretation of the contracts.
Simply put, these Requests are objectionable because they seek an admission of the legal issues
in dispute in this case.
Therefore, Plaintiff’s Requests for Admission are improper and
Defendants’ responses to the discovery requests are satisfactory.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel (Filing No. 39) is denied.
Dated this 26th day of October, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Susan M. Bazis
United States Magistrate Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?