DAZN Media Files Notice For Canelo Lawsuit To Return To Federal Court

Less than two weeks after Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez refiled his current multimillion-dollar lawsuit in a state courthouse, one key party has taken the necessary steps in an effort to return the case to its original home.  

DAZN Media, Inc.—one of the defendants named in Alvarez’s ongoing lawsuit—filed a Notice of Removal to Federal Court, seeking to have the case once again heard in the United States District Court, Central District of California. The law firm of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC—on behalf of DAZN Media—submitted the Notice of Removal from Los Angeles Superior Court (Central District) on Thursday, ten days after Alvarez’s team refiled its case which began in federal court.

“[P]ursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(d) (“Procedure for Removal of Civil Actions”), DAZN Media Inc. has provided written notice of the Notice of Removal to all adverse parties.” Tiffany Caterina, attorney for DAZN Media Inc. noted as part of a 53-page notice, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Thus, the filing of this Notice effects the removal of this action to federal court, and requires that [LA Superior]Court proceed no further unless and until this matter is remanded.” 

The law office of Freshfields, Bruckhaus and Derringer US LLP has also been obtained by DAZN Media, with its assigned attorneys’ involvement pending completion and acceptance of pro hac vice application.

Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) originally filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California on September 8, alleging breach of contract, intentional interference with contract, negligent interference with contract; fraud and concealment; and breach of fiduciary duty. The Mexican icon claims damages of no less than $280 million, the remaining balance on his contract with Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) for services provided to DAZN-USA upon their record-breaking 11-fight, $365 million deal reached in October 2018.  

The parties are merely three fights into the deal which began with Alvarez’s 3rd round knockout of England’s Rocky Fielding in December 2018. The win netted the pound-for-pound entrant a secondary version of the super middleweight title.

Alvarez dropped back down to middleweight, where he continues to reign as lineal champion and where he picked up another alphabet title in a 12-round decision win over then-IBF titlist Daniel Jacobs last May in Las Vegas. The belt was stripped from Alvarez just three months later for failure to meet several extended deadlines set by the IBF to successfully negotiate a title defense with mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

Instead, Alvarez—who also relinquished the WBC belt in exchange for designation as “Franchise” champion—moved up to light heavyweight where he scored an 11th round knockout of Sergey Kovalev last November in Las Vegas. The win made him a three-division champion—having also previously reigned at junior middleweight—but with the event preceded by the revelation of a soured relationship between Alvarez and de la Hoya upon learning additional details about the existing and separate deals between all parties.

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Two separate contracts exist in the deal—one between Alvarez and GBP, and the other between GBP and DAZN. Each contract contains provisions requiring any dispute between said entities to be resolved by arbitration.

The win over Kovalev was the last time Alvarez has entered the ring. Plans to face England’s Billy Joe Saunders in an attempt to become a legitimate four-division titlist—with the two due to meet in May—were thwarted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Months of squabbling over terms for a post-pandemic ring return—with DAZN asking Alvarez and Golden Boy to accept a massive paycut—reached an impasse, prompting Alvarez to file his first lawsuit with the U..S. District Court.

The case was dismissed without prejudice on September 11, with room for amendment to refile. Such steps were taken by The Maloney Firm LLP on behalf of Alvarez and SA Holiday, Inc., but instead filed with the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles.

Among its modifications—and thus the reason for Alvarez’s team moving the case to state court—was identifying each party named in the lawsuit.

DAZN North America, Inc., DAZN Media Inc., DAZN US LLC., Perform Investment Limited, Golden Boy Promotions LLC, Golden Boy Promotions Inc. and de la Hoya are each named as defendants.

The original complaint cited Perform Investment Limited as “a New York Limited Liability Company with its principle place of business in the State of New York.” The modified entry accurately places the group as “a business entity organized under the laws of the United Kingdom, with its principal places of business in London, England and the State of New York.”

With such classification came the discovery of Alvarez—a citizen of Mexico—having to take the lawsuit to state court, since one foreign (non-U.S.) entity cannot sue another in a federal court.  As much is noted in DAZN Media’s filing to have the case removed from Superior Court to District Court.

The Notice cites that “Mr. Alvarez is a citizen of Mexico. Perform Investment Limited (which is now known as DAZN Limited) is a citizen of the United Kingdom. The arbitration agreements are found in contracts that contemplate international commercial relationships and contain broad arbitration clauses.

“Furthermore, both arbitration agreements are in writing; provide for arbitration in a jurisdiction that is a signatory to the New York Convention; arise “out of a legal relationship . . . that is considered commercial;” and contain “a party… that is not an American citizen.”

 Alvarez’s first filing with the federal court was dismissed a few days after the new case was submitted to the LA Superior Court on September 28. A copy of the summons and complaint was sent to each defendant on September 29, along with a request to accept service. 

“Per the California Code of Civil Procedure 415.30(c), service is not “deemed complete” until the “date [on which] a written acknowledgement of receipt of summons is executed [and] returned to the sender,” notes Caterina. “As of [October 8], no Defendant, including the Removing Defendant, has returned a written acknowledgement of the summons.

“Therefore, no Defendant has yet been served with process, pleadings, and orders. Removal is timely pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) because this Notice of Removal is being filed less than thirty days after DAZN Media Inc. received a copy of the Complaint. Removal is also timely under 9 U.S.C. § 205, which provides that removal can be effectuated at any time before trial.”

A trial date has not yet been set by the L.A. Superior Court.

DAZN Media cites Diversity Jurisdictions as additional grounds for removal, claiming that the “action satisfies the diversity requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), because the matter is between citizens of different states and citizens of foreign states, with citizens of the United States on either side of the action.”

Alvarez is a citizen of Mexico, with the point argued by DAZN’s attorneys that his allegation of part-time residence in San Diego—his training headquarters—“is not relevant for purposes of determining diversity jurisdiction.”

 The rest are identified as follows:

-       Alvarez’s SA Holiday Inc. is an established business in and a citizen of the State of Nevada;

-       DAZN North America is classified as a business in and citizen of the States of Delaware and New York;

-       DAZN Media is a principal business in and a citizen of the State of New York;

-       DAZN US LLC is identified as a citizen of the United Kingdon, given the classification of its sole member, Perform Investment Limited (DAZN Limited);

-       Golden Boy Promotions, LLC members are identified as Oscar de la Hoya—a citizen of California—and Bernard Hopkins, a citizen of Delaware;

-       Golden Boy Promotions, Inc. is an established business in and a citizen of the State of California.

Thus, the claim from DAZN Media that “none of the Plaintiffs have the same citizenship as any of the Defendants, and though citizens of foreign states are on both sides of the controversy, there are also citizens of the United States on both sides.

“Therefore, diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) is satisfied.”

Additionally satisfying 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) is the claim that the Complaint exceeds the sum or value of $75,000. With that comes the plea for the case to be returned to federal court. Given the existing allegations, “a court must assume that the allegations of the Complaint are true and that a jury will return a verdict for Plaintiffs on all claims made in the Complaint.

“Because both the amount in controversy and diversity prongs of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) are satisfied, this Court has original jurisdiction over this action.”

According to a Notice of Assignment submitted on Friday, the newly filed case with the U.S. District Court by DAZN Media has been assigned to the Hon. Fernando M. Olguin—the U.S. District Judge whom was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2012—and Magistrate Judge Jean P. Rosenbluth.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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