A week after Vince McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment accused him of reckless conduct, Oliver Luck on Friday struck back. Attorneys for the former XFL commissioner filed a memorandum of law in Connecticut federal district court in which they bashed McMahon and Alpha as corrupt and deceitful.
“McMahon,” the brief alleges, “violated his duty of good faith . . . to ensure that Alpha did not manufacture spurious or dishonest grounds on which to terminate Mr. Luck for the sinister purpose of avoiding payment of all compensation to which he was entitled upon a termination without cause.”
Last Friday, attorneys for Alpha told Judge Victor Bolden that Luck had made unauthorized emails containing sensitive XFL information to his brother-in-law and NFL agent, William Wilson. Currently the CEO and secretary general of U.S. Soccer, Wilson had co-led the football division at Wasserman Media Group. Alpha also contends that Luck misused his company iPhone and failed to a release a player, Antonio Callaway, who had a “bad reputation” in violation of XFL policies. The two sides are in dispute over whether Alpha lawfully fired Luck “for cause,” a move that cost the 60-year-old former NCAA executive vice president $23.8 million remaining on a five-year, $35 million contract. Luck also asserts that McMahon made a personal and binding guarantee that Luck would be paid.
A “for cause” firing requires a high showing by the employer. As described in Luck’s filing, that was true for Alpha. Luck’s employment contract contained specific reasons that had to have been triggered by Luck willfully or with gross negligence, and that were not curable (repairable) within 30 days. Luck insists that neither McMahon or Alpha provided him with written notice of any alleged wrongdoing or an opportunity to cure alleged violations. As portrayed by Luck, the absence of notice was part McMahon’s “bad faith” and a “sham attempt” by Alpha to set Luck up for a dishonest firing. “Defendants,” the brief maintains, “knew that if he had received such notice and opportunity, he immediately would have cured the alleged violation and thereby deprive the defendants of an opportunity to avoid payment of the full amount.”
Luck’s filing also alleges that McMahon and Alpha have purposely misconstrued the facts. This assertion is raised with respect to Callaway. Alpha charges that Luck signed Callaway in spite the XFL’s concerns about Callaway’s past controversies. Luck is also accused of failing to notify McMahon of Callaway sustaining an injury and refusing to promptly cut Callaway. Luck not only asserts that such a retelling is factually wrong, but he says it misses a larger point: According to Luck, his employment contract made clear that whether the XFL should sign and release Callaway was for the league commissioner—Luck—to decide.
The bitter legal fight between Luck and McMahon doesn’t appear headed for resolution anytime soon. Luck’s filing indicated that he is filing a separate motion to leave in order to submit a third amended complaint—which Luck promises will contain “additional details of defendants’ bad faith conduct”—against McMahon and Alpha.