A man has filed a lawsuit against Vince McMahon, WWE, The Rock, ESPN and more alleging the sharing of “trade secrets” in connection with the XFL. PWInsider reports that David Adrian Smith filed suit on July 20th in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas against McMahon, WWE, ESPN, Dani Garcia, The Rock, Dick Ebersol, Frank and Carol Riddick and others. The lawsuit alleges that all parties involved have been made privy to, used, and/or shared “disclosed confidential trade secret information” throughout the creation of the most recent XFL as well as the new, upcoming version.
For ease of reference, Dick Ebersol is the former NBC Sports executive who served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance of American Football. Dani Garcia is The Rock’s business partner and a co-owner of the XFL; Frank Riddick is WWE’s current CFO and was on the Board of Directors before that (during the time of the allegations). Carol Riddick is Frank’s wife.
Smith claims in his suit that he disclosed the trade secret information on May 10th, 2016 to Carol Riddick that included “market analysis, opportunity analysis, strategic analysis and other business information regarding a concept for a minor league or developmental league spring football league.” Riddick’s goal was to talk with Frank Riddick about the original XFL that failed to find out what he had learned from that experience and what they might do differently in another version. He claims that he told Carol in his first email, “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 no merit.”
Smith says that he spoke with Carol through email, with Carol asking several questions and Smith giving “further analysis of the opportunity including further trade secret information.” He claims that the back-and-forth ended after he got no responses from Frank Riddick or McMahon about what they had learned, and claims that the Riddicks disclosed the information Smith brought them to people and that it was eventually brought to McMahon and others, and that McMahon shared it with Dick Ebersol, his son Charlie, and ESPN where it was used in the production of the This Was The XFL 30 For 30 documentary for ESPN.
Smith alleges that the selling of the XFL rights and trademarks from WWE to McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment where the XFL was relaunched was due to them having access to his “trade secrets” and that Ebersol started the Alliance of American Football with the same trade secrets that he had possessed through the disclosures. And he then goes on to say that when the XFL was bought by Rock, Garcia, and others for the new version set to launch next year, his trade secrets were again disclosed and received, all without his authorization.
All in all, Smith is claiming that there were 89 counts of misappropriation of trade secrets, 115 counts of Theft of Trade secrets and 134 counts of RICO violations. He does not state what the trade secrets are and has a motion to seal all court records to prevent them from being disclosed to the public. He, in his words, “at this time refuses to disclose the evidence of communications” with Carol Riddick and wants the court to order the defendants not to further disclose the secrets. He also says that he
Smith is asking for:
* 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
* An 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
Both Alpha Entertainment’s XFL and Ebersol’s AAF shut down after less than one season; the AAF was shut down in April of 2019 after eight weeks of play and the XFL shut down after only five weeks of play due to the pandemic.