Report: PGA Tour attorneys up the ante over 'ducking' LIV Golf mastermind

The legal battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf League is now focussing on whether court papers have been properly served. 

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 28 Mar 2023
Report: PGA Tour attorneys up the ante over 'ducking' LIV Golf mastermind

PGA Tour attorneys warned they will seek a 'default order' against LIV Golf's backer - the PIF - and its governor unless they respond to counterclaims. 

In a court filing made public on 27 March, attorneys for the tour have argued that PIF and Yasir al-Rumayyan "have tried everything possible to duck service" in order to "stonewall discovery". 

There is no denying the legal wranglings are hard to understand at times. 

But essentially, the PGA Tour was sued by several golfers last August on antitrust grounds. 

Phil Mickelson was the plaintiff in chief but has subsequently dropped out after LIV Golf added themselves as a plaintiff.

The PGA Tour have countersued, alleging tortious interference in players' contracts.

They claim LIV told the golfers they could lawfully break their contracts. 

The PGA were granted permission to add the PIF - Saudi Arabia's vast sovereign wealth fund - and al-Rumayyan as defendants in their counterclaims. 

Now they want to ask al-Rumayyan - known in LIV quarters as 'The Investor' and mastermind behind the 'rebel' league - under oath about PIF's investment and guidance on LIV. 

The court filings served on 27 March states attorneys for PIF and al-Rumayyan have been served documents in multiple ways. 

Court documents state that papers were served at their headquarters in Riyadh, which were allegedly 'signed for' by a person. 

Now, PGA Tour attorneys are asking the court to allow them to permit service through two email addresses for al-Rumayyan, PIF and their attorneys. 

There is a trial date scheduled for 8 January 2024, but given the arguments over discovery that date appears to inevitably be pushed back. 

The judge overseeing the case, Beth Labson Freeman, previously ruled against the PGA when they asked to delay the case owing to its complexity.

Related: LIV Golf make outrageous claim against PGA Tour exec 

It was previously reported that al-Rumayyan attorneys have argued the financier should not be made subject of discovery because of 'sovereign immunity'. 

They also argued there was a lack of jurisdiction. 

The judge took a different view, arguing that al-Rumayyan must sit for depositions and produce documents because: 

"It is plain that PIF is not a mere investor in LIV; 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."

Elsewhere, LIV Golf's legal position over al-Rumayyan appears to contradict the assurances Newcastle United's Saudi owners gave to Premier League bosses before they completed their takeover of the football club. 

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