SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Eighty-three caddies sued the PGA Tour in an antitrust class action, seeking some of the $50 million in ad revenue the Tour makes from the corporate logos caddies must wear without being paid for it.
Lead plaintiff William Michael Hicks has caddied for more than 30 years, and has worked for Payne Stewart, Greg Norman, Steve Stricker and Justin Leonard.
In the Feb. 3 federal lawsuit, Hicks claims that the PGA Tour makes caddies wear bibs with ads on them, and keeps the approximately $50 million in revenue generated by the ads annually.
"Caddies receive none of the revenue and never have consented to (the PGA Tour's) commercial use of their likenesses and images," Hicks says in the lawsuit.
While PGA Tour regulations permit caddies to endorse their own sponsors' products and services, caddies continue to wear the bibs because of threats, Hicks says.
He claims the Tour has threatened to prohibit caddies from working, and contacted golfers to see if they'd be willing to fire caddies who refuse to wear the bib.
The PGA Tour also said it would prohibit caddies from receiving endorsement money from any sponsor that competes with the tour's sponsors, Hicks says.
He claims that caddies are treated poorly in general.
"Despite the caddies' contribution to professional golf, (the PGA Tour) has treated caddies as second-class participants of the game," and has denied caddies "basic health care coverage and access to pension plans," Hicks says.
He adds: "During tournament play, defendant forces caddies to use portable lavatories that lack running water and denies caddies access to areas of tournament venues necessary for caddies to perform their duties fully. The list goes on."
The plaintiffs seek class certification, an injunction and punitive damages for antitrust violations, misappropriation of likeness and right of publicity, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, trademark violations, duress, and unfair competition. They are represented by Lee Cirsch of the Lanier Law Firm in Los Angeles.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.