PGA Tour caddies’ lawsuit dismissed

A federal judge in San Francisco dismissed without prejudice a class-action lawsuit filed by caddies against the PGA Tour claming that corporate sponsorship names and logos on caddy bibs makes then human billboards.

In his ruling, Chhabria claimed the caddies signed a contract with the tour that requires them to wear bibs as part of their uniform.

“The caddies’ overall complaint about poor treatment by the Tour has merit, but this federal lawsuit about bibs does not,” Chhabria said.

The decision came about one year after the caddies filed suit in Northern California. The lawsuit that began with 81 caddies and had grown to 168.

Chhabria dismissed all seven of the contractual claims.

” … For decades, the bib has been the primary part of the ‘uniform’ that the Tour requires caddies to wear,” Chhabria wrote. “The only reasonable interpretation of the contract is that the caddies agreed the Tour could make them wear bibs.”

Lawyers for the caddies estimated the value of the advertising at $50 million a year.

The caddies have been odds with the tour for the last several years over what they perceive as poor treatment. They are not allowed in clubhouses and at some tournaments are not allowed in the locker room.

Chhabria also found no merit to claims of antitrust and trademark law, along with complaints of publicity rights and that contracts were signed under duress.

Richard Meadow of Lanier Law Firm, which represents the caddies, said the decision would be closely reviewed to determine grounds for appeal.

“We are however pleased the court acknowledged that the caddies are treated poorly by the PGA Tour and hope that the Tour takes that to heart and begins to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve,” Meadow said.

The PGA Tour said in a statement that it is pleased by the decision.

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