Former XFL commissioner Oliver Luck and Vince McMahon have reached a settlement in their federal breach of contract lawsuit. Terms of the settlement are not known.
Luck, who was fired for cause as XFL commissioner in April 2020, sued McMahon and Alpha Entertainment for more than $23.8 million. Crucial to the case is whether McMahon made a legally binding guarantee that Alpha would honor the five-year, $35 million contract Luck signed in 2018.
The enforceability of the promise hinges on several factors. The two sides have debated whether Alpha lawfully classified Luck’s firing as “for cause,” a classification that invited heightened scrutiny given that Luck was terminated as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports and as the XFL declared bankruptcy. Whether McMahon’s guarantee survived a for-cause firing has also been subject to dueling legal briefs.
The disclosure of a settlement was contained in a filing last Friday by one of Luck’s attorneys concerning the sealing of evidence. “The parties,” the filing to Judge Victor Bolden noted, “reached an agreement to resolve this case on June 16, 2022.” Sports Business Journal was first to report on the filing.
The settlement, which after a final approval by Judge Bolden will lead to the case’s dismissal from the docket, arrives only a few weeks before jury selection would have taken place. A five-day trial was scheduled to begin July 11.
As is often the case in litigation, the two sides identified acceptable conditions for a settlement, which most likely involves McMahon paying Luck some of the demanded money, before the risk of a trial where one side would lose. A trial would also involve public testimony at a time when McMahon has stepped down from WWE during a misconduct investigation.
Luck, who previously served as president of NFL Europe and the NCAA’s executive vice president for external affairs, had maintained McMahon illegally created a pretext to avoid paying him. McMahon and Alpha, for their part, insisted that Luck violated his employment contract. Luck, for example, was accused of misusing his company iPhone and signing ex-Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway in contravention of an XFL requirement that players have “good character.”
The XFL is no longer under McMahon’s control. As first reported by Sportico, a group headlined by Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and businesswoman Dany Garcia purchased the XFL in 2021 and plans to launch in 2023. The group paid $15 million and assumed certain liabilities, but not the risk of liability in Luck’s case.