Bloody Elbow reported that Marcus Avellan, a close Lloyd Irvin associate and manager of the 'Platinum Level' of Irvin's MMA Millionaires program, had filed a lawsuit against Justin Garcia, Nakapan Phungephorn, Brandon Nunley, Jungle Gym Martial Arts, LLC and BETA Martial Arts Academy. Garcia is the owner of Jungle Gym while Phungephorn owns BETA. Nunley, for his part, is a former MMA Millionaires client who posts on the MixedMartialArts.com forums as "Fuzzy Badfeet."
The lawsuit alleged that "Nunley set out with the assistance of Phungenphorn [sic] and Garcia on a systematic campaign to destroy the professional reputations of MMA [Consulting Services, LTD], FFA [Freestyle Fighting Academy], and The Mastermind Group by posting and/or causing to be posted false and defamatory statements about them on the internet." MMA Consulting Services, LTD and FFA are Avellan businesses while the Mastermind Group is the Lloyd Irvin led group in which Avellan has a prominent role.
The suit alleged that this started after Lloyd Irvin students Matthew Maldonado and Nicholas Schultz were arrested for the alleged rape of a female Irvin student on New Year's Eve.
On the 22nd, Garcia filed a motion to dismiss the suit with the Miami-Dade courts.
Given that they are not Florida residents, Avellan's suit was reliant on long arm jurisdiction. Wikipedia's definition of long arm jurisdiction is "the ability of local courts to exercise jurisdiction over foreign ("foreign" meaning out of jurisdiction, whether a state, province, or nation) defendants, whether on a statutory basis or through a court's inherent jurisdiction (depending on the jurisdiction). This jurisdiction permits a court to hear a case against a defendant and enter a binding judgment against a defendant residing outside the jurisdiction concerned."
The motion to dismiss includes this bit about Garcia and Jungle Gym:
In order for a Florida court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, the defendant or the defendant's conduct must satisfy one of the elements of the long-arm statute. Garrett v. Garrett, 668 So.2d 991, 994 (FLA. 1996). Neither Garcia nor Jungle Gym have committed any act to confer specific jurisdiction, as alleged, under Florida's long-arm statute.
Plaintiffs' Complaint fails to allege that any of the alleged defamatory statements attributable to Garcia took place or occurred in Florida. In fact, Plaintiffs do not assert that the alleged defamatory statements allegedly made by Garcia were even about citizens of Florida, which were published and read by persons in Florida. Instead, Plaintiffs allege that Garcia generically "published [these] defamatory statements about [non-party] the Mastermind Group", not Plaintiffs. Complaint 53. Plaintiffs only claim that Garcia baldly published statements to "a member of the Mastermind Group", without specification as to the alleged means of communication or alleged location of the purported published statement. Complaint 53. Further, there is no alleged defamatory statement, at all, alleged to be made by Jungle Gym.
It then goes on to provide statements that Garcia does not do business in Florida, further justifying their contention that the court lacks jurisdiction over them.
In addition, the motion to dismiss asserts that Garcia's rights to due process of law would be violated if he were forced to defend this suit in this court.
Nakapan and his lawyers will likely take a similar route, especially if Garcia is successful with getting the dismissal.
Bloody Elbow has reached out to Avellan to ask about the lawsuit but has not yet received any reply.
We will continue to provide updates on this story as they become available.