Oliver Luck, Vince McMahon settle lawsuit over firing of former XFL Commissioner

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Oliver Luck is officially doing the Vince McMahon strut.

At a time when McMahon’s status at WWE is in question over allegations of misconduct, he won’t have to spend any further time defending against a lawsuit filed by the former head of his twice-failed football league. Via Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, the former XFL Commissioner and McMahon have settled Luck’s $24 million wrongful discharge suit.

The settlement was mentioned in a Friday filing from Luck’s attorney, in which Luck requested an order permanently sealing the records in the case. Terms are not yet know, and they likely will never be. Typically, settlements of civil actions like this include a broad confidentiality provision. Those agreement often include a liquidated damages clause allowing the party that paid to seek full recovery as the estimated harm done by blabbing.

Trial was scheduled to commence on Monday, July 11. The settlement followed a brief settlement conference last week, one so short that it made it seem that settlement wouldn’t occur at all.

The case, based on an alleged breach of Luck’s contract to serve as the Commissioner of XFL 2.0, had been whittled down to one potential defense. McMahon’s position hinged on proving that Luck was fired because he had allowed the league to sign former NFL receiver Antonio Callaway, in defiance of McMahon’s insistence that the league avoid players with certain off-field issues. The fact that the firing of Luck happened two months after Callaway was signed and only one day before the pandemic forced the league to shut down dramatically weakens that argument.

In the end, Luck accepted a payment presumably under 100 cents on the dollar in order to eliminate the risk that McMahon would catch lightning in a barrister’s bottle. It also ends the delay in the payment of the money, giving Luck certainty and immediacy. Appeals could have tied the case up for years. (That said, statutory prejudgment interest can often be better than any investment around.)

It’s a shame that Luck didn’t get all of it. It seems fairly obvious that McMahon, once he knew the XFL was done, wanted to cut his losses, even if it meant coming up with a seemingly flimsy defense to justify refusing to pay what was owed. The fact that McMahon threw multiple other defenses at the wall in the hopes that one would stick makes it more likely that McMahon simply didn’t want to honor the contract, and that he ordered his lawyers to do whatever they had to do to keep him from having to pay.

If McMahon ended up paying anything less than the full amount that Luck was owed, it’s a victory. Unless, of course, the legal fees when added to the settlement amount push the whole thing above what it would have cost to just pay Luck without a fight.