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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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PGA Tour Seeks Dismissal of Saudi Arabia Sovereign Fund Appeal

  • PGA Tour claims Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund doesn't have standing to challenge discovery decision.
  • PIF appealed ruling that the fund, fund chief Yasir Al-Rumayyan have to produce documents, give depositions.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour filed a motion to dismiss an appeal filed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund on Wednesday, the latest legal turn in the PGA Tour-LIV Golf antitrust case. 

In the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals filing, lawyers for the PGA Tour argued that PIF doesn’t have standing to appeal the U.S. District Court’s decision that the sovereign fund and fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan are subject to discovery. The PGA Tour has sought to depose Al-Rumayya and obtain information from PIF, the major financial backer of LIV Golf.

“Allowing appeals of discovery orders, whether by parties or nonparty witnesses, would eviscerate the general rule that only final judgments are appealable,” lawyers for the PGA Tour wrote the 10-page motion.

The PGA Tour was approved by Judge Beth Labson Freeman to add PIF and Al-Rumayyan to its countersuit initially filed late last year. But PIF’s appeal deals with whether sovereign immunity should apply as non-parties, the legal definition for people and entities not directly in litigation. 

Lawyers for the PGA Tour argued that PIF is only entitled to appeal after a PIF files a motion to be dismissed as defendants in the counterclaim. 

“PIF intends to raise that issue again in its motion to dismiss [the counterclaim],” PGA Tour lawyers wrote. “That motion — and, presumably, any resulting appeal — will be appropriate procedural vehicles for deciding the sovereign immunity issues, whereas the Court lacks jurisdiction over this premature appeal.”

The PGA Tour attorneys also wrote that PIF would have the right to appeal if Labson holds it in contempt for not complying with the discovery ruling. A magistrate judge initially made that ruling before Labson upheld that decision.

Earlier this month, Labson delayed the start of the trial — originally set to begin in January — to May 2024. 

Several LIV Golfers originally filed the lawsuit against the PGA Tour, alleging the established pro tour of anti-competitive practices. LIV Golf took over as the main plaintiff in the case in the ensuing months as most LIV golfers dropped from the case. 

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 22. 

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