Court denies PGA Tour's motion to dismiss Hank Haney lawsuit
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The PGA Tour's motion to dismiss Hank Haney's lawsuit has been denied by the Southern District of Florida.
Haney, who was suspended by the Tour and SiriusXM earlier in 2019 for comments deemed racist and sexist on his eponymous radio program, brought a suit against the Tour in December, alleging the Tour harbored a “vendetta” against him. According to the documents, Haney, 64, 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.” Haney claims the Tour has “long attempted to disrupt and interfere in Haney’s business,” most notably regarding the release of his book, The Big Miss, a tell-all from Haney's time as Tiger Woods' swing coach.
Haney also alleges the Tour forced the Golf Channel to discontinue his “Hank Haney Project” TV show on the network and SiriusXM to terminate Haney's business relationship. According to Haney, these actions have cost advertising revenues that "would have amounted to millions" over the life of Haney's agreements.
The Tour argued in its motion to dismiss that Haney is not taking responsibility for his words and that his accusations are unfounded. However, the Southern District asserted on Monday that the case ultimately deserves its day in court.
“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,” reads the court's ruling.
In May 2019, Haney and his co-host Steve Johnson were involved in controversy when they made comments during Haney's show regarding the U.S. Women’s Open. Haney mockingly predicted “a Korean” would win the championship, held that week at the Country Club of Charleston, adding he couldn’t name six players on the LPGA Tour save for those with the last name “Lee.”
“I’m pleased with the court’s decision," Haney said in a statement to Golf Digest's Brian Wacker. "It allows us to move forward and prove our case. 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. I’m looking forward to our day in court.”
The PGA Tour said it has no comment on the matter.
Haney is best known for coaching Woods from 2004 to 2010. He is also a longtime Golf Digest teaching professional. The Tour has until April 13 to respond to Haney's complaint.