Wednesday September 27, 2023

Judge Upholds PGA Tour’s Subpoenas for PIF, Al-Rumayyan

  • LIV Golf had argued PIF, fund officials were not subject to discovery because they have sovereign immunity.
  • Decision is expected to be appealed, a process that will likely lead to a delay of the January 2024 trial date.
Paul Childs/Reuters via USA TODAY Sports
Front Office Sports Today

Taylor Swift Takes NFL to New Heights

Taylor Swift and her rumored relationship have brought in a new, more female-heavy audience.
Listen Now
September 27, 2023 | Podcast
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

LIV Golf suffered a significant legal setback in its antitrust case against the PGA Tour, one that could have implications for Saudi Arabia beyond the country’s investment in a rival pro golf league.

Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen ruled that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and PIF’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, are subject to subpoena requests from the PGA Tour. The ruling denying a motion to quash the subpoenas was made public via the federal court docket late Thursday night.

“PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan purposefully directed their activities at the United States,” van Keulen wrote in her 58-page order that found both were within jurisdiction in U.S. courts as it pertains to LIV Golf. “Their conduct in the United States was deliberate and recurring.”

Lawyers for PIF and Al-Rumayyan had successfully quashed subpoenas in federal court, including one Elon Musk sought for Al-Rumayyan to bolster Musk’s defense in a lawsuit filed by Tesla shareholders.

In a January filing, attorneys for LIV Golf argued that allowing discovery against PIF — including deposing fund officials — would  “raise complex, sensitive, novel, and critically important issues of foreign sovereign immunity.”

PIF, one of the world’s most valuable sovereign wealth funds with assets of more than $600 billion, has invested in several U.S. companies, including Uber, Disney, and Facebook. 

“To accept jurisdiction here could set a dangerous precedent allowing PIF to be sued in U.S. courts any time one of its portfolio companies is involved in a dispute,” lawyers for LIV Golf wrote in a November filing.

According to the order, the PGA Tour’s subpoenas related depositions of Al-Rumayyan and other PIF officials will have to be re-served. Van Keulen signed the order on Feb. 9, but she gave the sides a week to redact the document.

LIV Golf also argued that while PIF almost entirely funds it, all the tour’s decision-makers were based in the U.S.

“PIF is not a mere investor in LIV,” van Keulen wrote. “It is the moving force behind the founding, funding, oversight, and operation of LIV.  PIF’s actions are indisputably the type of actions by which a private party engages in trade and traffic or commerce.”

Van Keulen was assigned to rule on whether PIF and Rumayyan should be subjected to discovery in the lawsuit originally filed against the PGA Tour in August. Several LIV Golf players were the original plaintiffs in the case that accused the PGA Tour of using “its dominance to craft an arsenal of anticompetitive restraints to protect its long-standing monopoly.”

The decision will undoubtedly impact the timeline for the case, which Judge Beth Labson Freeman presides over in the same federal courthouse in San Jose where van Keulen’s decision originated. 

LIV Golf will likely appeal Van Keulen’s ruling, which Freeman would hear. If Freeman upholds Van Keulen’s decision, LIV Golf could file an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — a process that would take months before a decision is rendered.

The PGA Tour had already sought a delay in the trial that is currently set to commence in January 2024. 

Last month, the PGA Tour requested to add PIF and Al-Rumayyan as co-defendants to a countersuit filed against LIV Golf. In the fling, PGA Tour attorneys claimed “PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan played an active and central role in orchestrating” breaches to contracts the PGA Tour had with golfers to lure them to LIV Golf.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 24.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Patrick Reed

Judge Dismisses Both of Patrick Reed’s Defamation Cases

A federal judge dismissed both of Patrick Reed’s defamation cases.
NFL concussions

The NFL’s $1B Battle Over Concussion Settlement Heats Up

The NFL is seeking at least $1.2 billion from its risk carriers.

Commanders Still Face Legal Fight Over Former Name

Team, owner accused by non-profit of defamatory conduct

LIV, PGA Tour Schedules Likely Clashing Despite PIF Deal

In 2024, LIV is reported to go head-to-head with the PGA Tour.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Taylor Swift Takes NFL to New Heights (w/ Andrew Brandt)


Featured Today

Taylor Swift at Chiefs vs. Bears game.

Taylor Swift NFL Hype Likely To Continue Another Week

Swift could drive blockbuster TV ratings for NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
September 27, 2023

Lillard And Giannis Pairing Could Be Big For The NBA, Too

Bucks to be featured on national TV 19 times this season
September 27, 2023

Magic Johnson Open To Knicks Minority Ownership Stake

Basketball Hall of Famer only interested in specific NBA franchise
Golden State Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob walks alone the baseline during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Chase Center.
September 27, 2023

Warriors Owner Reportedly Adding A Bay Area WNBA Franchise

An official announcement could come as soon as early October.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Chicago Cubs
New York
Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group, Inc.
USA - Multiple Locations
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is among the FTX endorsers who have reached a settlement for their roles in promoting the crypto exchange.
September 18, 2023

Trevor Lawrence Settles Lawsuit Over FTX Crypto Endorsement

Lawrence has settled while other FTX athlete endorsers still face lawsuits.
Lane Kiffin
September 15, 2023

Ole Miss Football Player Files $40M Lawsuit Against Lane Kiffin, School

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is being sued by one of his players.
Senate Hearings
September 13, 2023

Senate Subpoenas Saudi Investment Fund Records in PGA Tour Inquiry

Senate hearing reveals deep concerns about the potential PGA Tour-LIV deal.
Jim Trotter
September 12, 2023

Reporter Jim Trotter Sues NFL, Alleges NFL Owner Made Racist Remark

Trotter alleged Terry Pegula made a "highly offensive and racist" remark.
Michael Irvin
August 31, 2023

Potential Trial in Michael Irvin’s Lawsuit Against Marriott Many Months Off

Irvin returned to the air this week as a contributor on FS1’s “Undisputed”.
Brett Favre sues Shannon Sharpe, Pat McAfee, and Mississippi State Auditor Shad White .
August 29, 2023

Brett Favre’s Attorneys Mount Challenge Over Text Messages in Welfare Funds Lawsuit

Favre is among more than 40 defendants in the civil case.
August 28, 2023

Nearly 30 New Subpoenas Seek Communications With Brett Favre

Former NFL player Adalius Thomas among those subpoenaed.