No Delay Granted for PGA in Upcoming Trial Against LIV Golf – PGA Impleads New Party in Response.

            This past Friday, February 24th, the PGA Tour was denied a request to delay the start of the upcoming trial against the new LIV Golf league. In response, the PGA immediately amended their counterclaim to include two new parties – Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan. This move indicates a new strategy on the part of PGA, and it was done in an attempt to increase the scope of discovery they can compel from LIV Golf.

            There have been a number of legal battles between the new LIV Golf organization and the historically established PGA Tour since the new organization’s inception. [1]LIV Golf has claimed that the PGA Tour is violating anti-trust laws based on their “monopolistic” control of the market.[2] The PGA responded by counterclaiming, arguing that the recruitment of high-profile players using large sums of money by LIV constitutes illegal interference with their existing player contracts. [3] This latest ruling, and corresponding subsequent move by council to the PGA, is the latest legal battle in an ongoing war.

            U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman presided over the hearing last Friday, and it was her decision to deny the PGA’s request for an extension. Currently, the trial is scheduled to begin on January 8th, 2024. [4] During the Zoom hearing, the PGA argued to delay the start date of the trial because of procedural issues they’ve had with discovery related to the PIF and Yasir Al-Rumayyan. The LIV argued against any delay, under the premise that every day the PGA continues to have monopoly control of the market is a day that LIV golfers are being harmed. Judge Beth Labson Freeman sided with the LIV argument in this instance, but also indicated to LIV Golf that her decision may change, depending on how compliant the organization, PIF, and Al-Rumayyan are to discovery-related subpoenas.

            Council for the PGA followed Judge Labson’s decision by quickly amending their counterclaim to include both the PIF and Yasir Al-Rumayyan as named counter-defendants. [5] In naming these parties as defendants in the case, the PGA is attempting to make it easier to get access to them during discovery, presumably in the form of both depositions and documents. It has been several months of the PGA claiming that PIF and Al-Rumayyan are the actual controlling forces behind LIV, and not Greg Norman, who is the named CEO and Commissioner of the organization. [6] However, having Norman named as the CEO of the organization has allowed PIF and Al-Rumayyan to evade discovery requests thus far. As explained by Jodi Balsam, a sports law professor at Brooklyn Law School, the addition of the two new parties to the PGA’s counterclaim adds additional legitimacy to the PGA’s discovery arguments against LIV. [7]

            The naming of two new parties by the PGA could change the direction of this lawsuit, and comes at a time when the LIV appears to be facing new issues on multiple fronts. New reports have shown that the LIV generated nearly zero revenue during the 2022 financial year, but also that they have secured a multi-year deal with the major U.S. television network, The CW. [8][9]With so much change occurring in the professional golf world, it is hard to predict exactly where the game and its players are going to end up.










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