Desperate Attempt From Caddies to Reverse Antitrust Class Action Dismissal

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The Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour caddies are taking another swing at gaining revenue for advertisements on a caddy’s bib. The class action antirust case, of which over 150 caddies are involved, filed an appeal with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They are requesting the court to overturn the district court’s dismissal of their complaint concerning advertising logos and abuses made by the PGA Tour.

This appeal stems from a lawsuit filed in January 2015. The caddies claim the PGA Tour violated and continues to violate federal antitrust laws by forcing them to advertise without compensation. The caddies valued the advertising on their bibs to be worth $50 million per year, and which the caddies never see a dollar of. The caddies, who are employed by players as independent contractors, must sign a contract stipulating to certain rules with the PGA Tour—including a dress code. This contract does not proscribe caddies signing with sponsors; however the dress code of bibs covers “valuable real estate on the caddies’ shirts that they otherwise use to secure their own sponsors.”

In February 2016, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed the original case. According to Chhabria, “caddies know, when they enter the profession, that wearing a bib during tournaments is part of the job. In other words, the bib is the primary part of a caddie’s uniform. And the contracts the caddies signed with the Tour require them to wear the uniforms prescribed by the Tour. For that reason, there is no merit to the caddies’ contention that the contracts somehow prevent the Tour from requiring them to wear bibs.”

The appeal, filed four months after the ruling was made, gives multiple reasons why the lawsuit should be allowed to proceed. This includes the claim that the trial court did not properly “conduct its fact-finding before reaching its decision.” Thee district court had requested photographs and media guides to consider whether to dismiss the case. According to the caddies, the judge used these materials to establish the caddies had “long worn the bibs and that they had consented to wearing them.” However, the caddies argue this is what is in dispute, and they should have been allowed to refute the evidence.

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