A judge for the Southern District of Florida has denied the PGA Tour’s motion to dismiss Hank Haney’s lawsuit against the Tour related to the termination of his show on SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio station.
The former golf coach filed a lawsuit against PGA Tour, Inc. on Dec. 18, 2019, seeking damages for harm he claims the PGA Tour caused by allegedly interfering with his show.
The Tour argued Haney’s claims were “bereft of factual specificity.” Alternatively, the Tour said that even if Haney’s allegations satisfy pleading standards, Haney has “still failed to allege facts demonstrating that Defendant unjustifiably interfered with Plaintiffs’ contract and/or business relationship.”
But the court disagreed. From the ruling Monday:
“The Court, having reviewed the parties’ submissions, the record, and being otherwise fully advised in the premises, finds that the allegations teed up in this case—like a well-hit drive on the golf course—have avoided pleading hazards under Rule 12(b)(6), remained in bounds, and left Plaintiffs with an opportunity to take their next shot.”
In a statement to Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker, Haney said he was pleased with the decision. “Discovery will show the evidence in our favor is overwhelming and indisputable, and evidences a disturbing influence the PGA Tour exercises in the golf world, including on media outlets.”
The PGA Tour has said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
In his lawsuit, Haney claims the Tour had “long-standing animus” toward him dating from a desire to “settle an old score” relating to his 2012 book, “The Big Miss,” about his relationship with Tiger Woods, whom he coached for six years.
The lawsuit alleges the Tour forced its Superstores and other shops to cancel orders of Haney’s book, directed the Golf Channel in 2013 to discontinue Haney’s TV show, the “Haney Project,” and convinced sponsors to discontinue relationships with Haney.
Last May, Haney was originally suspended, then dismissed at the Tour’s instruction, from his radio show with Steve Johnson due to insensitive comments he made about the potential winner of the U.S. Women’s Open.
Haney, who instructed more than 200 tour professionals throughout his career, issued an apology after facing backlash in the media and from players. His lawsuit states SiriusXM accepted the apology and agreed there would be minimal, if any, consequences.
The lawsuit claims that his dismissal “cost advertising revenues that would have amounted to millions of dollars over the life of the agreement.”
As part of his deal with Sirius, which was signed in November 2017 and was set to continue until Feb. 15, 2021, Haney received $250,000 per year plus a percentage of the advertising revenue generated by the program.
Since his dismissal, Haney has a new podcast on iHeart Radio.