As previously reported on LBN, more than 80 caddies who work for some of the highest profile golfers in the world have filed a class action antitrust federal lawsuit against the PGA Tour for $50 million. A major issue in the lawsuit is advertising revenue from the tournament bibs caddies are required to wear. The caddies are represented by Houston trial lawyer Gene Egdorf, who discusses the lawsuit in this report.
Caddies are generally viewed as independent contractors. However, the caddies working on the PGA Tour are in an unusual position as regards the wearing of advertising bibs prescribed by the Tour. Egdorf points out that each tournament has its own particular bibs, and caddies are required to wear the specified bibs as part of their uniforms. That requirement is at odds with the independent contractor status.
The caddies have a number of concerns about their relationship with the Tour beyond the bibs and potential lost income from the advertising. Egdorf explains that the Tour treats caddies very differently than golfers, including requiring them to eat at different places than their golfers. “If there’s a rainstorm, they have to stay out in the lightning.” Egdorf says that the caddies are treated as second class citizens, notwithstanding the value they add to the Tour and to the game. The Tour is restricting the ability of caddies to make money by doing their own advertising, but it does not give them the same benefits it would provide if they were employees.
The Tour takes the position that it must accredit all caddies. As part of the credentialing process, the Tour prescribes what caddies must wear. Caddies are expressly forbidden from doing any advertising on their own on the bibs they wear. Caddies are allowed to have sponsorship deals on their caps, but those are small endorsements paying at most $5,000-$10,000 annually. Egdorf notes that the caddies already have an association, but the outcome of all of the current problems and litigation may be the formation of a caddies’ union. Egdorf suggests that things could improve if the Tour would agree to do better by the caddies. A revenue split on income from the bibs would be a good start.
There are many caddies who work for various golf tours, including the PGA Tour. Egdorf suggests that there could be 1,000-2,000 caddies potentially involved in the class action, including caddies from prior years. Egdorf clarifies the status of caddies, noting that they share in the purses their players win, but they only share when their players in fact win. However, caddies pay all of their own expenses, including travel, food, lodging, and rental cars. A caddy for a player who doesn’t make the cut is actually losing money. The reason that bib advertising income is so important is that this is about the only guaranteed revenue source a caddy could have available.
Egdorf believes that the court will certify the class in this case. As of the date of this report, Egdorf says he has 82 caddies who are on hand, and many more have contacted him about the case. He says that the cases against the NCAA regarding sharing money with college athletes are somewhat similar to the issues in this case.
Eugene "Gene" R. Egdorf is a Senior Attorney with The Lanier Law Firm's Houston office. He represents firm's clients in commercial and complex litigation matters. These cases have included matters involving antitrust, patent infringement, fraud, deceptive trade practices and breach of contract. His work on personal injury, work-related injuries, and products liability cases, including airplane crash litigation, medical device litigation, pharmaceutical liability and asbestos exposure has spurred a long line of victories on behalf of his clients. Gene, who is the Managing Attorney for Commercial Litigation, has been with The Lanier Law Firm since 1998. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.