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Monday, June 24, 2024

Judge Gives Saudis Deadline to File Brief in LIV-PGA Tour Case

  • PGA Tour would like opportunity to depose PIF officials.
  • January 2024 LIV Golf vs. PGA Tour trial date remains unchanged.
A view of carts traveling on the course during an LIV Golf series event.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Saudi Arabia has until Tuesday to file an amicus brief in federal court that lays out the sovereign immunity arguments as to why the country’s Public Investment Fund and its governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan do not have to comply with the PGA Tour’s subpoenas. 

Judge Beth Labson Freeman set the deadline in a Friday hearing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Freeman didn’t alter the January 2024 trial date in the civil antitrust case between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. The next hearing is set for April 7, where — depending on how the discovery pleadings go over the next few weeks — Freeman could have no choice but to push a trial back.

A lawyer representing the Saudi government filed a three-page letter on Thursday requesting the amicus brief, a filing from somebody not part of a case to voice support for one side that is more typical in arguments before the Supreme Court. 

The letter arrived in the court docket a week after Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen ruled that PIF and Al-Rumayyan were subject to the PGA Tour’s discovery requests that include depositions of PIF officials. In her ruling, van Keulen wrote PIF’s “conduct in founding, funding, overseeing, and operating” LIV Golf falls outside a sovereign entity’s commercial activity exception. 

Van Keulen noted in her decision that lawyers representing PIF “have not presented evidence that Saudi Arabia has expressed an interest in the outcome of the current disputes.” 

“All of a sudden, we get a letter because they read [van Keulen’s] order and said, ‘Whoops. We forgot to tell you if this really matters to us,’” Freeman said during the hearing. “It falls a little bit on deaf ears.”

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