Neither side got all of what it wanted, but Vijay Singh will get his day in court, according to an order issued Feb. 13 by Judge Eileen Bransten of New York State Supreme Court.
In a 27-page decision in Singh vs. PGA Tour, Bransten dismissed five of seven causes of action: three alleging negligence by the PGA Tour, one on breach of fiduciary duty and one regarding intentional infliction of emotional distress.
But in the same decision, Bransten ruled against the Tour in the remaining two causes of action: breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing as well as conversion.
Singh filed suit against the Tour on May 8, alleging “public humiliation and ridicule” during the Tour’s three-month investigation over his use of deer-antler spray, which contained IGF-1, a banned substance. On April 29, Singh was cleared of any anti-doping claims after the World Anti-Doping Agency determined that use of the substance no longer violates the drug program.
Singh, who turns 51 on Feb. 22, has won 34 times on the PGA Tour, including three major championships.
In his original complaint, Singh alleged that the PGA Tour had an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. He said the PGA Tour materially breached its obligations by failing to conduct a thorough and fair investigation before wrongfully accusing Singh of a violation and by failing to analyze the nature of the substance that the PGA Tour identified as “IGF-1” before wrongfully accusing him of a violation and disciplining him.
While the court is not finding that allegation to be true or false, when reviewing the allegation in its best possible light, Singh does have a case of action.
The cause of action for conversion deals specifically with the PGA Tour alleged inappropriate behavior and holding Singh’s earnings in escrow during the time of the anti-doping investigation.
In denying the PGA Tour’s claim in the two causes of action, Bransten put into doubt provisions of the PGA Tour membership-renewal form signed by the players annually.
The court pointed out that the renewal form releasing the PGA Tour from any and all claims, demands, damages and causes of action whatsoever, in law or equity, and also provides for arbitration and the waiver of judicial review in cases of dispute, did not provide a basis for dismissing those causes of action.
The PGA Tour would not comment about the recent order.
“We believe this is a victory for Mr. Singh and all PGA Tour players,” said Singh’s attorney, Jeff Rosenblum, of Rosenblum & Reisman in Memphis, Tenn.