PGA Tour attorneys push to unseal LIV contracts

PGA Tour attorneys push to unseal LIV contracts

Attorneys representing the PGA Tour have asked a federal judge to unseal certain details of contracts that were signed by its former players who defected to the rival LIV Golf circuit earlier this year.

In a court filing submitted Tuesday to federal judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California, the PGA Tour’s attorneys said they oppose efforts by the plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against the tour to seal terms of their contracts with LIV Golf, arguing that such details “are not competitively sensitive.”

“Instead, they are highly relevant to the core issues in this litigation and already in the public domain,” the lawyers wrote in the motion.

Past major champions Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau were among the 11 plaintiffs who sued the PGA Tour, arguing it was trying to squash the upstart LIV Golf circuit by threatening players with lifetime bans and/or suspensions for playing in LIV Golf events. The lawsuit also alleged that the PGA Tour “threatened sponsors, vendors, and agents to coerce players to abandon opportunities to play in LIV Golf events. And it has orchestrated a per se unlawful group boycott with the European Tour to deny LIV Golf access to their members.”

Three LIV Golf players, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford, unsuccessfully tried to obtain temporary restraining orders that would have permitted them to compete in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Attorneys for the suspended players submitted heavily redacted LIV Golf contracts to the judge. The PGA Tour’s attorneys are attempting to unseal many of the details of those deals, including LIV Golf’s regulations for players who want to play in competing events, requirements for wearing LIV Golf logos during competition and monetary penalties for violating LIV Golf’s rules and regulations.

The PGA Tour said it was not opposed to sealing the “individually negotiated financial terms of plaintiffs’ contracts or confidential personally identifiable information.”

“The law provides for a broad public right of access to judicial materials,” the PGA Tour’s lawyers wrote in the motion. “That right is abrogated only where ‘compelling reasons’ exist to seal a record. The Court should decline Plaintiffs’ invitation to seal generic, publicly known material lacking any competitive sensitivity.”

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