As she alluded to during arguments earlier this month, Justice Eileen Bransten of the New York Supreme Court has at least partially denied the PGA Tour’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Vijay Singh last year.
Although Bransten issued an a la carte ruling, denying parts of the Tour’s motion while accepting others, she did allow Singh’s argument that the circuit has treated other golfers involved in similar doping violations differently.
“The court finds that (Singh) has sufficiently pled a cause of action for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” Bransten wrote in her decision.
The court also sided with Singh – who sued the circuit last May following a brief suspension due to a violation of the Tour’s anti-doping program – over the Tour’s argument that because he agreed to the anti-doping program by signing his membership renewal form he was not entitled to further legal relief.
“Membership renewal forms addressing arbitration and waiver of judicial review do not provide a basis for dismissing the remaining causes of action,” Bransten wrote. “. . . (Singh’s) lack of recourse under the terms of the program further supports the conclusion that the doctrine of judicial noninterference is inapplicable.”
“We thought it was a good ruling. It sent a message that the Tour will be dealt with for not acting in good faith,” Singh’s attorney Jeff Rosenblum told GolfChannel.com. “Our strongest argument is that the Tour acted in bad faith. I have to read the ruling, but the main thing is Vijay will have his day in court.”
Bransten, however, did rule that some of Singh’s claims should be dismissed, including his claim that the Tour “breached its fiduciary duty” to him and caused “emotional distress.”
“We don’t comment on pending litigation,” said Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communications and international affairs.
A discovery hearing in the case is scheduled for March 18 and Rosenblum said he expects the proceedings to move quickly following Bransten’s ruling.
“We are in the process of moving forward with the case and we think we can move forward swiftly with the discovery process,” Rosenblum said. “This just isn’t a victory for Vijay, but we feel it is a victory for all Tour players.”