U.S. District Judge Susan van Keulen dismissed claims of foreign sovereign immunity made by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund in the antitrust case between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf on Thursday. With the ruling, LIV Golf’s financial backers will be forced to sit for deposition and produce documents related to the case.
Spurning from the antitrust case between the two leagues that began in August, the latest development falls in favor of the PGA Tour. PIF will have to submit to 25 different categories of document discovery and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, will be deposed in either Saudi Arabia or New York City.
In Layman’s terns: The PGA Tour will be given access to information behind the formation of LIV Golf, its business dealings and negotiations with its players.
“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,” van Keulen wrote in her heavily redacted 58-page decision. “PIF’s actions are indisputably the type of actions by which a private party engages in trade and traffic or commerce.”
In reaction to the antitrust lawsuit by LIV Golf, the PGA Tour responded with a counterclaim of its own. The PGA Tour alleges that LIV Golf interfered with contracts of those former league members who ultimately joined LIV and sought subpoenas of PIF and Al-Rumayyan.
“The information sought by the subpoenas has not been shown to involve matters of national security or other information the disclosure of which would adversely affect Saudi Arabia,” Van Keulen stated. “On the other side of the scale, the United States has an interest in ‘vindicating the rights of American [parties].”
Any trial in the case will not take place until January 2024.