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LIV Golf lawsuit against PGA Tour handed severe blow in federal court

LIV Golf lawsuit against PGA Tour handed severe blow in federal court

With a second season of LIV Golf just days from the starting line, a federal judge has dealt a blow to the group that financially supports the upstart league, one that could radically change the fledgling circuit’s anti-trust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.

Although LIV Golf attorneys have been attempting to shed light on the PGA Tour’s organizational structure and financial dealings, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund tried to avoid the same fate, claiming “sovereign immunity” during a November filing.

But a federal judge ruled on Thursday that the PIF and its governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan must provide the same information, a move that’s expected to slow the aggressiveness of any suit, and might even halt it completely. It’s uncertain if Saudi officials will want to divulge such information.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen, in the U.S. District Court of Northern District of California, rejected the argument in an order that was made Feb. 9, but which remained under seal as LIV and the PGA Tour fought over proposed redactions of confidential information. A redacted copy of the order was included in a filing released late Thursday.

The original suit, which was filed back in August by Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers, was taken over by LIV Golf, which is under the PIF umbrella.

However, officials for the Saudi-run firm have insisted they only have high-level oversight over LIV Golf and don’t deal with day-to-day operations. The request also stated the move could set a “dangerous precedent” if PIF had to reveal its books, as the company has investments in major corporations like Walmart and Starbucks and could be ripe for similar requests over any suits filed against companies it holds.

The wealth fund, which was organized in 1971 as a means for the Saudi Arabian government to invest in various projects and companies, has been estimated to be worth over $650 billion.

But Thursday’s filing stated that PIF and LIV are too entangled to separate them for legal purposes.

“The Court DENIES the motion of PIF to quash the subpoena directed to PIF on the grounds of sovereign immunity because it finds that PIF’s conduct falls within the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act,” the order read. “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…


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