Lawyers for both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf filed a joint motion Sunday to the U.S. District Court for Northern California to ask for a case management conference to discuss delaying the current trial date and extending the discovery schedule for the ongoing antitrust lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman is overseeing the trial that is currently set for January 2024. The deadline to complete document discovery is March 30. The fact discovery deadline is May 26.
Lawyers for the upstart circuit led by Greg Norman and financially supported by the Public Investment Fund argued “the Tour is exploiting litigation delay to choke off air to LIV and players” and that the current timeframes are “not only workable, but critical to the careers of the Player Plaintiffs and the viability of LIV as a legitimate competitor to the Tour.”
Eleven LIV Golf players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in August of last year. Over the last six months, players have joined and dropped from the suit, and now just LIV Golf, DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein remain.
The PGA Tour’s argument centers around four key reasons. From the joint motion:
First, the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (“PIF”) and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, continue to resist compliance with the Tour’s subpoenas for documents and testimony, a dispute that remains unresolved and which will likely lead to an appeal.
Second, the Tour has sought leave to amend its counterclaims to add PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan as counterdefendants, because recently produced documents show that they played a central role in tortiously interfering with the Tour’s contracts.
Third, LIV, the current and former player plaintiffs, and several third parties have failed to produce key documents and, in some cases, have failed to produce documents at all.
Fourth, the nature of this case has significantly evolved since the Court set the current January 2024 trial date, from a case about individual golfers to a case about two competing golf leagues, substantially undermining Plaintiffs’ stated basis for an expedited case schedule.
“Given the present status of discovery (or lack thereof) from PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan in particular, it is not realistic for the parties to meet the current deadlines,” the Tour lawyers wrote. “In fact, PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan have already signaled that they are unlikely to comply with any order from this Court compelling them to provide discovery, instead indicating that they will pursue their meritless defenses through lengthy appeals.”
While the 2022 season as all about player movement, the discussion for 2023 will largely center around the various lawsuits in play. Aside from the aforementioned antitrust lawsuit, Patrick Reed has sued numerous media members and entities for defamation and a case involving LIV Golf players and the DP World Tour began in London on Monday that will clarify whether LIV players can play in DP World Tour events.
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