Two more players drop out of antitrust lawsuit; LIV Golf added as interested party

Two more players drop out of antitrust lawsuit; LIV Golf added as interested party
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Two more plaintiffs have dropped out of the antitrust lawsuit that was filed against the PGA Tour earlier this month, but an amended copy of the complaint filed Friday now includes LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed league that is at the center of the complaint, as an interested party.

Abraham Ancer and Jason Kokrak have been removed from the lawsuit, dropping the number of player plaintiffs to seven. The original lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of California was 11 players, but Carlos Ortiz and Pat Perez had previously announced they had dropped out.

The lawsuit now includes Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter and Peter Uihlein.

The amended lawsuit covers all the ground of the original, including the suspended players claiming the Tour violated the Sherman Act in an “intentional and relentless effort to crush nascent competition before it threatens the Tour’s monopoly.”

The addition of LIV Golf, which was not a part of the original complaint, escalates the lawsuit with the startup claiming the circuit has been able to launch its tour only “in the face of super-competitive costs and artificially reduced access to [players].”

LIV Golf is now asking the court to award the league “punitive damages for the PGA Tour’s bad faith and egregious interference with LIV Golf’s contractual and perspective business relationships.”

Earlier this month, Judge Beth Labson Freeman denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed three of the suspended players – Swafford, Jones and Gooch – to participate in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs, which conclude this week at the Tour Championship.

The trial date for the lawsuit is set for Jan. 8, 2024, and a summary judgement hearing is scheduled for July 23, 2023.

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