State of Nevada Rebuts Nick Diaz Lawsuit

Esther Lin, MMA FIghting

Last Tuesday, UFC welterweight Nick Diaz filed a lawsuit against the Nevada state athletic commission, claiming that the state regulation agency violated his right to due process by declining to grant him a hearing on the status of his fighter's license within 45 days of his suspension.

According to the state of Nevada's office of the attorney general, the legal move is misguided. That is because Diaz's legal team, headed by Ross C. Goodman, cited a "summary suspension" of Diaz's license in his court filing. According to Nevada's state codes, a summary suspension can be ordered if an agency finds that "public health, safety or welfare imperatively require emergency action."

But in a written response from Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto to Goodman and forwarded to MMA Fighting, the state of Nevada asserts that Diaz's legal team misunderstood the suspension.

"No Notice of Summary Suspension was ever served on your client," Masto wrote. "In this matter, Mr. Diaz was properly served with a 'Notice of Hearing on Temporary Suspension' and he failed to appear at the hearing. The Commission temporarily suspended Mr. Diaz’s license at the hearing. Neither Mr. Diaz nor you objected in any manner to the temporary suspension."

The letter effectively indicates that because Diaz was not given a "summary suspension," his case does not fall under Nevada code NRS 233B.127, which requires a hearing within 45 days. A separate code, NRS 467.117, indicates that the commission can " continue the suspension until it makes a final determination of any disciplinary action to be taken against the licensee or holder of the permit."

The letter also indicates that the NSAC delay in scheduling Diaz's hearing was partially his fault, caused while waiting for him to produce his medical marijuana card.

"I've waited for more than a month for the card," Masto wrote.

Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites on February 4, shortly after losing a UFC 143 match against Carlos Condit. On a pre-fight medical questionnaire, he denied taking any "prescribed medications" in the last two weeks.

On April 4, Nevada sent Goodman a letter asking him to produce Diaz's medical marijuana card. Goodman later produced a letter from Diaz's doctor, Robert E. Sullivan, who said he had first issued a physician's statement in June 2009 which noted that Diaz had a 'serious medical condition" which would, in his professional opinion, "benefit from the use of medical cannabis." He issued a follow-up statement on Feb. 28, 2012, re-affirming the same.

The Nevada attorney general's office said that they are moving forward with their complaint against Diaz, and that they would still attempt to hold a disciplinary hearing on the matter.

Meanwhile, Nevada's Clark County District Court has set a May 14 hearing at 10:30 am on Goodman's request for an injunction against the suspension on Diaz's license.

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