Wednesday September 27, 2023

PGA Tour Alleges PIF Attempted to Avoid Discovery

  • PIF requested a stay in any discovery related to the PGA Tour-LIV Golf antitrust case.
  • Trial between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is scheduled for May 2024.
LIV Golf fighting PGA Tour's latest appeal.
Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports
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The PGA Tour requested one of two options in a motion filed Thursday: continue with all discovery as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund appeal is decided or halt discovery altogether. 

PIF and fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan are appealing a magistrate judge’s discovery ruling. The magistrate judge found that PIF and Al-Rumayyan were so closely connected to LIV Golf that sovereign immunity did not apply, a decision upheld by U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman.

“Where there is already strong evidence that PIF and Mr. Al- Rumayyan possess core discovery materials,” PGA Tour lawyers wrote in the filing. “The [PGA] Tour should not be compelled to begin depositions of related witnesses, like LIV executives and third parties with whom PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan interacted, without receiving that discovery.”

The PGA Tour filed a motion to dismiss that appeal on Wednesday. 

In the Thursday filing, lawyers for the PGA Tour wrote that PIF’s appeal to the 9th Circuit is “unlikely to be decided until sometime in the late summer or fall of 2024.” The trial date — already moved back five months — is scheduled to begin in May 2024

As that appeal is active, PIF requested a stay in any discovery related to the PGA Tour-LIV Golf antitrust case. That would keep discovery active for both LIV and the PGA Tour. 

“After instigating this lawsuit, PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan have engaged in a dedicated, concerted campaign to avoid producing any discovery,” PGA Tour lawyers wrote. “PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan can choose at any time to comply with their discovery obligations and the court’s orders. Instead, they have elected to pursue every tactic within their procedural arsenal to delay producing discovery and run out the clock on the litigation they started and they control.” 

If Judge Freeman grants a stay for PIF-related discovery, the PGA Tour requested all discovery should be halted,

“In the absence of a global stay of discovery or new case schedule, PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan’s requested stays would deprive the [PGA] Tour of the ability to: depose two named counter-defendants; complete its expert reports on liability and damages; move for summary judgment; and pursue its counterclaims at trial.”

While LIV Golf is the main plaintiff, the PGA Tour filed a countersuit against LIV last year. Freeman hasn’t ruled whether to add PIF and Al-Rumayyan to counter-defendants in that countersuit.

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