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With the latest court filings, five things to know about the LIV, Tour litigation

PGA Tour, LIV Golf fail to resolve discovery dispute

The antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour last year by a group of former players and LIV Golf has now spilled over into a fourth U.S. court.

Attorneys representing the Tour filed a flurry of motions Wednesday in an ongoing discovery dispute between the circuit and McKenna Advisors, a Virginia-based advisory and investment firm that serves as “outside consultant to LIV,” according to court filings.

The dispute is one of at least a half-dozen between the Tour, LIV Golf and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which has invested more than $2 billion into the second-year league. Here are the five things you need to know about the ongoing antitrust litigation and various legal disputes:


**Attorneys for McKenna Advisors and its CEO, Andrew McKenna, filed a motion to reject the Tour’s request for discovery in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. They claimed the Tour’s “insistence on conducting a fishing expedition into unrelated work that McKenna may have performed for LIV” is “overboard and unduly burdensome.”

The Tour’s opposition to that motion was filed Wednesday and argued that Andrew McKenna “personally attends exclusive strategy meetings with [PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan]” and other LIV executives. The Tour also claims McKenna helped recruit Tour players to LIV and is “responsible for public relations attacks on the Tour.”

“LIV has repeatedly alleged that the protests and public outcry about LIV’s Saudi backers was not genuine, but rather stoked by the Tour. Against this backdrop, McKenna’s public relations work for LIV is relevant to refuting those claims and proving that the golf community and the public at large has, in fact, reacted negatively to LIV’s relationship with PIF and the Saudi monarchy,” the Tour’s response read.

The Tour also filed a motion Wednesday to transfer the discovery dispute from the Virginia court to the original court in the Northern District of California. A hearing in the dispute is scheduled for May 12.


**The Tour’s response also referenced a similar discovery dispute that began in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia late last year between Clout Public Affairs, a public-relations firm retained by the Tour, and LIV Golf.

In that discovery dispute, LIV claimed the Tour, through Clout, funded a campaign by 9/11 groups including “over a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of anti-LIV advertisements” and requested “all communications between the Tour and Clout relating to LIV, Saudi Arabia, and the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.”

In a joint status report filed earlier this month, LIV claimed that Clout continues to withhold discovery. That district court has been asked to retain jurisdiction in the matter.


**In a contentious hearing earlier this month regarding the original antitrust claim, which now includes a counterclaim against LIV Golf, PIF and Al-Rumayyan, Judge Beth Labson Freeman denied LIV’s request to bifurcate the original case from the Tour’s counterclaim.

PIF and Al-Rumayyan have appealed Labson Freeman’s and a magistrate judge’s ruling that the fund must submit to discovery in the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The move forced Labson Freeman to vacate the original trial date of January 2024. The trial now is scheduled for May 2024, but even that seems optimistic given the appeal.

“It may be two years from now [before trial], and I want you to know that,” Labson Freeman warned attorneys during a case management conference earlier this month.


**Last week, attorneys for the Tour filed a motion in the 9th Circuit to deny PIF’s request for an appeal.

The Tour claimed, among other arguments, PIF isn’t entitled to an appeal until they are cited for contempt for not complying with Labson Freeman’s order to participate in discovery. PIF and Al-Rumayyan contend they are not subject to U.S. courts under sovereign immunity and other international laws.

According to the 9th Circuit’s website, the current length of an appeal is six to 12 months. The current schedule for the appeal begins with an opening brief from PIF on July 17.


**Another discovery dispute between LIV Golf and the DP World Tour that was filed in the Middle District of Florida last fall, is also ongoing.

LIV Golf requested discovery from various European tour officials in connection to the original antitrust case in Florida claiming the DP World Tour regularly transacts business in the area as part of its strategic alliance with the PGA Tour, which is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Attorneys for the European circuit claimed that “LIV seeks to haul non-party European tour into the [Florida court] from its headquarters over 4,000 miles away in Surrey, England.”

That dispute is ongoing.