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Legal wrangling continues in PGA Tour-LIV antitrust case despite settlement

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The PGA Tour, LIV Golf and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia have settled their antitrust and counterclaim litigation, but the legal wrangling continues in the case.

On Thursday, attorneys for The New York Times and LIV Golf argued whether documents that had been sealed as part of the antitrust litigation should remain sealed.

“Can a [sealing] standard retroactively be changed?” asked U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman during the hearing that lasted nearly an hour.

In June, the antitrust case was dismissed with prejudice as part of the framework agreement between the Tour, PIF and DP World Tour, but The Times filed a motion arguing the public’s right to information sealed in the case outweighed LIV Golf and PIF’s claims that public disclosure of certain documents could cause “competitive harm.”

The Times has identified more than 60 documents – including the “Subscription and Shareholder Agreement” between LIV Golf and the PIF – that claim it should be unsealed under the “compelling reason” standard. That threshold is higher than the “good cause” standard, which was widely used during the litigation.

Freeman didn’t rule on the motion but did say she was “concerned about entire documents being redacted” and noted that 48 of 62 documents were sealed entirely under the “good cause” standard. “There should have been redactions, not sealing entire documents,” she said.

Freeman instructed the attorney representing LIV Golf – John Bash, who has also represented the PIF – to identify the standard used to seal each of the documents sought by The Times and to file a brief within two weeks on whether the sealing standard should change based on a case that has been dismissed.

An attorney representing the Tour was also on the video conference but made no arguments because there is no confidential Tour information being sought by The Times.