Professional caddie Mike Hicks and 81 others filed a class-action against the PGA Tour in U.S. District Court in California, alleging the Tour’s misappropriation of their “likenesses and images in commercial activities.”
The caddies seek for a share of revenue flowing in from caddies wearing bibs that display sponsors’ logos, which amounts to $50 million per year. According to the suit, the caddies allege that they “are made to serve as billboards to advertise, at the direction of the PGA Tour, for some of the most profitable companies in the world without compensation.” Under the Tour’s Endorsement Policy, the suit claims that the caddies are forced to endorse sponsors without compensation.
They also seek for punitive damages, arguing the Tour’s “conduct was intentional, reckless, and malicious.” Eugene Egdorf, an attorney representing the caddies, said, “This lawsuit is intended to protect the rights of caddies who are required to endorse tour sponsors with zero compensation from the PGA Tour. Any working professional deserves to be paid based on the income they generate, but that’s not happening on the PGA Tour.”
This suit compares to the O’Bannon case where college players sued the NCAA for selling their marketing rights. However, the suit is different in that the caddies are not employees of the Tour but are considered independent contractors.
The class of caddie plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the PGA from causing them “irreparable harm” while the suit is pending.