Things are heating up in the legal battle between swing instructor Hank Haney and the PGA Tour, which stems from a lawsuit Haney filed in U.S. District Court in December 2019 alleging that the PGA Tour had a “vendetta” against him that led to his suspension and subsequent termination from SiriusXM.
Haney alleges in his lawsuit that the Tour has a “vendetta” against him and is seeking damages “for the harm the PGA Tour caused when it improperly intimidated, enticed and threatened Sirius XMRadio, Inc. (SiriusXM) to suspend and ultimately terminate Haney’s radio broadcast on SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio station” following comments he made surrounding the U.S. Women’s Open.
Aside from the alleged pressure the Tour put on SiriusXM, Haney’s lawsuit laid out other examples of the Tour acting in bad faith, including their response to the release of his tell-all book “The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods” in 2012, which Haney accused the Tour of wanting “to settle an old score relating to professional golfer Tiger Woods.”
This past Friday, the PGA Tour responded to Haney’s lawsuit in a motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Rodolfo Ruiz requesting Haney’s lawsuit be dismissed, according to ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach.
The Tour’s lawyers wrote that Haney’s suit failed to prove that the Tour “unjustifiably interfered with Plaintiffs’ business and/or contractual relationship with Sirius XM” and failed to prove that the decision to fire him was “based on anything other than [the radio network’s] own review of Haney’s racist, xenophobic, and sexist comments about the LPGA and its players.”
Last month, lawyers for the PGA TOUR filed a motion to dismiss Hank Haney’s lawsuit, claiming the suit’s foundation was “uncorroborated and totally conclusory.”
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) February 11, 2020
“In sum, 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 PGA Tour’s lawyers wrote. “Accordingly, this lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice.”
In response to Haney’s claims that the PGA Tour’s long-standing vendetta dated back to the release of his book in 2012, the Tour responded by saying that were there such a vendetta, they would not have signed Haney to a contract that was set to run through February of 2021.
“Plaintiffs make several statements allegedly documenting PGA Tour’s ‘vendetta’ against Haney originating in 2012,” the Tour’s lawyers wrote in their motion. “Yet, if PGA Tour actually possessed this vendetta as Plaintiffs allege, then it seems inapposite that PGA Tour would not have protested initially and insisted SiriusXM refuse to air his program on PGA Tour Radio when Sirius XM entered into a multi-year contract in 2017 with Haney allowing him to broadcast on PGA Tour’s branded radio channel. Accordingly, not only do Plaintiffs not have any support for this unsubstantiated allegation, but the facts belie such an assertion.”
Haney’s lawyers responded in kind, according to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard.
“The (Tour’s) argument that its interference was justified or privileged must be reserved for its responsive pleading and explored during subsequent fact discovery,” Haney’s lawyers said. “(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 SiriusXM and the Plaintiffs.”
No hearings have been scheduled at this time.
Disclaimer: Hank Haney is a SwingU Academies client.