This has been the biggest week for the new XFL ownership group since they took over the company in 2020. With the new logo, we’ve already seen one lawsuit filed against the company. Well, it looks like we have another one to discuss.
PWInsider reports that a lawsuit has been filed against Vince McMahon, WWE, ESPN, Dany Garcia, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Dick Ebersol, WWE Chief Financial Officer Frank Riddick, Carol Riddick and many others related to the XFL. The lawsuit was filed on July 20th before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas by David Adrian Smith.
Smith alleges that on May 10, 2016 he “disclosed confidential trade secret information” via email to Carol Riddick including “market analysis, opportunity analysis, strategic analysis and other business information regarding a concept for a minor league or developmental league spring football league.” Smith alleges that in his first email to Carol, he told her “Please feel free to share with Mr. Riddick but ya’ll keep it under your hats until we have a chance to discuss how to proceed or that it has not merit.”
He then reveales that he has a series of discussions via email with Carol Riddick where she “asked several rounds of questions.” Smith states that he provided answers and “further analysis of the opportunity including further trade secret information.” Smith goes on to say the correspondence stopped after he received no responses from Frank Riddick or Vince McMahon “with feedback on what Defendant #1 [WWE] learned from their previous failed venture.”
Adrian Smith believes that the Riddick’s disclosed the information and trade secrets.
The lawsuit also alleges that the information was given to Vince McMahon, who then sahred it with former parter Dick Ebersol and his son Charlie. He believes it was also shared with ESPN and that the “trade secret information” was used in the production of the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary ‘This Was The XFL’, a year after Smith and Carol Riddick were exchanging emails.
Smith is alleging that since WWE sold the rights and trademarks of the original XFL over to McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment, it was due to members of the WWE Board (McMahon and Riddick) being involved as they knew of Smith’s “trade secrets” and that Ebersol launched the AAF as well in part due to his knowledge of the trade secrets Smith possessed.
Smith is also alleging that when Alpha Entertainment filed for bankruptcy and the XFL was purchased by Dwayne Johnson, Dani Garcia, and the remainder of the current owners of the XFL, his trade secrets were “disclosed / conveyed to and acquired / received” to the new ownership without Smith’s authorization.
Smith is requesting, among other things, a declaration that the defendants’ actions as alleged are unlawful, an injunction to prevent any actual or threatened misappropriation of his trade secrets, an injunction to prevent the defendants from engaging in unlawful acts, an order from the court conditioning that future usage of his trade secrets result in royalty payments, an award from damages brought by the unjust enrichment of the defendants for using his trade secrets, award of damages from the misappropriation of his trade secrets (with the figures estimated at greater than $15 million), court costs, pre and post-judgment interest adjusted for inflation and anything else the court deems appropriate.
McMahon officially suspended XFL operations in 2020 due to the start of the COVID pandemic. As noted in the complaint, Luck was fired the day prior. The XFL filed for bankruptcy on April 13, which led to purchase by Dany Garcia, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and RedBird Capital in August 2020.
As you’re probably aware, the XFL is working towards a February 2023 return, and these may just be a few bumps in the road.