Below is the first part of an article by Dennis Dood from cbssports.com. It reads…
Professional golf caddies have filed a class-action, anti-trust lawsuit against the PGA Tour alleging improper use of the caddies’ “likenesses and images.”
The suit — similar to the landmark O’Bannon vs. NCAA action — seeks access to what it says is a revenue stream worth $50 million annually from caddies wearing of traditional “bibs” adorned with sponsors logos. The caddies are required to display those sponsors’ logos controlled by the Tour that derives revenue from them.
The suit was filed Tuesday in the same United States Northern District Court of California that was home to the O’Bannon class-action suit vs. the NCAA involving college athletes.
The caddies’ suit states that the tour denied them to profit from sponsors’ logos worn on bibs that are required by PGA without compensation. The plaintiffs — 82 current caddies from 19 US States and one Canadian province — say the sponsorship value of the bibs is worth $50 million.
“Caddies receive none of that revenue,” the suit states.
The suit seeks unspecified actual damages and royalties attributable to the Tour’s use of the caddies’ “likeness and images in commercial activities.”
The caddies’ suit is similar to O’Bannon in that it raises the same image and likeness issue. A district judge in August ruled that schools cannot cap the value of a football or men’s basketball scholarship below the actual cost of attendance. It also ruled schools can create a trust fund up to $5,000 per school year in exchange for their names, image and likeness (NIL).
The NCAA has appealed.
Unlike college athletics, caddies are considered independent contractors. They are not employed by the Tour but are subject to its rules. The suit states the Tour “denied caddies basic health care coverage and access to pension plans.” During tournament play caddies are forced to use “portable lavatories that lack running water…”
The class of caddie plaintiffs are led by veteran Mike Hicks who in his 33-year career has caddied for Payne Stewart, Greg Norman, Steve Stricker and Justin Leonard.
The caddies for top players Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are not included in the class. According to a source, caddies Joe LaCava (Woods) and Jim Mackay (Mickelson) are supportive but didn’t want to be included in the class to avoid distractions for their players.
LaCava is listed as a board member of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC) that was formed in November 2013. According to the lawsuit and news reports, the APTC was formed after a series of disagreements with the Tour.
At the Barclays in 2013, the suits states security personnel kicked caddies’ wives and family members out of a shelter during a rain stoppage.
Per the Tour’s Endorsement Policy, the suit states caddies have been forced to endorse sponsors “without remuneration.” The plaintiffs allege tour players have been contacted to determine if they would end their agreements with caddies who didn’t wear the proper bibs.
One top tour official is quoted as saying any discussion regarding compensation from bibs “is off the table.”
“This is simply about fairness and what is right,” said Kenny Harms, another plaintiff class representative and caddie for tour pro Kevin Na. “Any working professional deserves to be paid based on the income they generate. That’s not happening on the PGA Tour.
“The PGA Tour has historically told the caddies – who are independent contractors and not Tour employees – what endorsements they can and cannot have. It’s not much of stretch to foresee the PGA Tour trying to impose such exclusivity agreements on players at some point.”
The suit asks that the case should be assigned to the California Northern District because of its “vast experience adjudicating similar cases.” It lists landmark college cases involving former quarterback Sam Keller and O’Bannon.
The plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that would prohibit the PGA from causing the caddies “irreparable harm” while the suit is considered.
The Tour did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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