SBJ/20090316/This Week's News

Ginn Development files for mediation in PGA Tour dispute

Ginn Development Co. filed a motion to compel mediation in a dispute with the PGA Tour, which sued Ginn in January after the Georgia-based real estate developer announced it would no longer serve as tournament organizer and title sponsor of events on the PGA and Champions tours.

The tour sued Ginn on Jan. 30 for damages of more than $15,000, two days after the company issued a press release announcing the “end of its sponsorships of professional golf,” which included an event on both the PGA and Champions tours from 2007 to 2011.

The PGA Tour’s contracts for title sponsorships call for “dispute resolution procedures.” If the two sides can’t resolve a dispute in the normal course of business, they must enter formal negotiations or nonbinding mediation and, ultimately, seek a legal resolution.

The dispute lies in whether those procedures were followed and exhausted.

According to documents, Ginn met with tour officials last summer and informed them in an August letter that “economic and other factors have caused Ginn to re-evaluate its ability to sponsor” any remaining tournaments after the Champions Tour event in the spring of 2009.

The tour claims that by announcing its withdrawal, Ginn waived the right to dispute resolution. Ginn is claiming that the tour prematurely filed a lawsuit without following the procedures laid out in the contract.

A hearing is scheduled for May 11 in Flagler County, Fla., where Ginn has offices.

Ginn also had a contract to title sponsor an LPGA tournament in Orlando, but the LPGA has not decided on a course of action. “We’re keeping our options open,” said LPGA spokesman David Higdon.

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