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Horse You Came in On Saloon sued over Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcasts

Broadcasting an Ultimate Fighting Championship fight between Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin II may cost The Horse You Came in on Saloon $150,000.

That's how much a promotional company wants the Fells Point bar to pay in damages for showing a fight it claims it had sole rights to. Joe Hand Promotions, based in Pennsylvania, filed the lawsuit Monday in Baltimore's U.S. District Court. A second lawsuit over the same fight was filed against a Silver Spring restaurant, Irene's Pupusas III.

The company has a history of filing similar lawsuits against area bars, and has found some success.

Ultimate Fighting Championship fights have made legal news recently. Zuffa LLC, which owns Ultimate Fighting Championship, sued New York state to overturn its ban on mixed martial arts.

Management at The Horse You Came In On Saloon has not responded to requests for comment.

Joe Hand Promotions claims in its lawsuit that it won exclusive nationwide television distribution rights in 2009 to the Ortiz v. Griffin fight, which was broadcast that year. After winning the contract, it sold sublicensing rights to exhibit the fight to an unspecified number of bars and venues.

Venues that had not purchased those rights were not authorized to show the fight, the company argues. An investigator hired by the company reported The Horse You Came in on Saloon and Irene's broadcast the fight on November 21.

The company seeks $150,000 in damages for two different violations. Although the company claims the bar willfully showed the fight, it also includes in its complaint the Fells Point bar's DirectTV bill, which suggests the fight might have been part of a satellite TV package. 

It's not clear how liable a bar is for broadcasting a program that it had bought as part of a larger entertainment package. Management at the bar - which includes owners Spiros Korologos and Steven Fortinos, as well as manager Eric Mathias - have not responded to requests for comment.

Joe Hands has pursued similar litigation in the past and succeeded to some degree.

Last year, it sued Tiburzi's for broadcasting an UFC fight between Matt Sera and Georges St-Pierre II that was broadcast in 2008. The two parties eventually settled in April.

And, the company also sought $150,000 in damages from the Bethesda restaurant Steamers Seafood Bar & Grill in a lawsuit filed in January. In May, a judge found in the company's favor, but ordered the restaurant to only pay $26,500.

The Horse You Came in on Saloon has been a presence in Fells Point for over 40 years. In 2006, its longtime owner Howard Gerber auctioned it off; Ioannis Korologos, who owns several area Double-T Diners, bought it for $1.6 million.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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