Former XFL commissioner Oliver Luck has sued owner Vince McMahon in federal court, citing wrongful termination after McMahon’s decision to shutter the league.
According to the complaint, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, Luck received a termination letter on April 9 — a day before McMahon laid off most of the XFL staff and three days before the league filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Luck “wholly disputes and rejects the allegations set forth in the Termination Letter and contends they are pretextual and devoid of merit,” per the complaint.
McMahon is chairman and CEO of the WWE and is the owner of Alpha Entertainment, which was the parent company of the XFL.
Much of the lawsuit is redacted, citing confidentiality clauses in Luck’s contract. He was hired in May 2018 for a deal reportedly worth approximately $20 million over its lifespan. Luck was not listed among creditors in the XFL’s bankruptcy filings, but the lawsuit alleges breach of contract.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, attorney’s fees and interest and a declaratory judgment on fulfilling the terms of the contract.
“Oliver Luck’s services as Commissioner and CEO of The XFL were terminated by a letter sent to him on Apr. 9, 2020 which explained the reasons for the termination,” said a statement by Jerry McDevitt of K&L Gates, which represents McMahon. “As to the lawsuit he filed, his allegations will be disputed and the position of Mr. McMahon will be set forth in our response to his lawsuit.”
The XFL is for sale as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, according to a source. But league employees who were part of a conference call announcing layoffs said they did not expect the league to resurface in 2021.
McMahon announced the return of the XFL in January 2018, and the league spent two years in development before debuting in February. The eight-team league made it through five weeks of games before suspending and finally canceling its season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein contributed to this story.