PGA Tour files motion to dismiss Hank Haney lawsuit

Rex Hoggard
Golf Channel

Late last year, Hank Haney filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking damages from the PGA Tour for what he claimed was the circuit’s involvement in the cancelation of his show on Sirius XM.

The suit claimed the Tour “improperly intimidated, enticed and threatened Sirius XM ... to suspend and ultimately terminate Haney’s radio broadcast” following racially insensitive comments made by Haney during the show.

The Tour’s policy is to not comment on ongoing litigation, but lawyers for the circuit filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last month that claimed the suit’s foundation was “uncorroborated and totally conclusory.”

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“Plaintiffs refuse to take ownership of Haney’s own ignorant and ill-advised comments and the resulting ramifications therefrom and instead have filed this suit, which is nothing more than an improper fishing expedition to try to deflect blame elsewhere,” the motion read. “Accordingly, this lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice.”

The motion also disputes Haney’s claim that the Tour, “has been working to ingratiate itself with the LPGA. This sought-after partnership in part is so the [Tour] can continue to monopolize all of professional golf. As such, the [Tour] has the motive to attack anyone it perceives is damaging the LPGA Brand.”

The motion to dismiss claims that under Florida law attempts to protect a financial interest are a “justifiable reason for interference” and noted the PGA Tour and LPGA’s strategic alliance agreement that was announced in March 2016.

“Aside from the offensive characterization of [the Tour’s] efforts to grow the game of golf for both men and women professional golfers and how it reflects a complete lack of understanding of [the Tour’s] relationship with the LPGA, this allegation is an outright acknowledgement that [the Tour] possesses a financial interest in protecting its relationship with the LPGA,” the motion read.

Haney was suspended and his show eventually cancelled after he was asked on air to predict a winner of the U.S. Women’s Open. Haney replied, “I’m going to predict a Korean.” He added that he couldn’t name six players on the LPGA. “Maybe I could. Well, I’d go with Lee. If I didn’t have to name a first name, I’d get a bunch of them right,” he said.

Lawyers for Haney countered with its response last Friday claiming, “The [Tour’s] argument that its interference was justified or privileged must be reserved for its responsive pleading and explored during subsequent fact discovery,” and that the Tour “is not a party to the contract nor does it have any legal right to control or interfere with the business relationship  between Sirius XM and the Plaintiffs.”

No hearings have been scheduled at this time.

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