It was a legal victory for LIV Golf and its attorneys this week in U.S. District Court, where a California judge granted the plaintiffs in the PGA Tour ban suit the flexibility and breadth of the search method.
Judge Susan van Keulen and the LIV legal team agreed that the PGA Tour needs to provide detailed information about its internal and external communications about LIV Golf, including the identities of those contacted by the “official” staff, players and managers. The deadline for that discovery is November 15.
In this recent interaction, LIV’s lawyers disputed the Tour’s claim that only 13 staff and officials were “authorized” to speak on the side of the circuit about the split circuit it sponsored by Saudi. That number was later increased to 31 employees who the circuit said were “authorized” to speak to a wide range of voters, including the DP World Tour; the USGA; R&A; Augusta National; World Golf Ranking; the Chainsmokers, an EDM-pop duo that landed in the middle of the trial; and Anthony Kim, the former star player who left the game in 2010.
LIV’s lawyers cited examples of what they called “proper” statements, including a claim that the Tour’s chief operating officer, Ron Price, told a customer that a “proper” advertisement for the LIV left the customer “in spirit.” LIV’s lawyers also used an example of Jason Day telling Lexus not to work with LIV and players who have joined the breakaway circuit. No transition was involved in the Tour’s first discovery.
At issue was how the Tour determined who was “authorized” to speak on the subject. Circuit lawyers argued, for example, that members of the Tour’s player relations team “have the right to talk to golfers in general, but they don’t have the right to talk to golfers for [LIV Golf].”
Van Keulen’s decision, inconsistent with LIV’s discovery limitation, will ease plaintiffs’ burdens in what is expected to be a lengthy and contentious process.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in August by LIV Golf and a group of players reduced to three, is scheduled for trial in January 2024.