SAN DIEGO – Following months of negotiations with the PGA Tour, a group of more than 80 caddies have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for unpaid endorsement fees.
The lawsuit, which was filed in San Francisco, stems from the Tour’s unwillingness to negotiate a settlement with the caddies, who claim they are made to wear logo-covered bibs without receiving any proceeds from contracts that lawyers for the caddies estimate is valued at $50 million annually.
“There was a lot of optimism we could get something worked out with the Tour,” said Houston-based Gene Egdorf, the attorney for the caddies.
“As of a couple months ago the caddies were told they weren’t going to get any more money for retirement and health insurance. There’s never been a belief the Tour is negotiating in good faith ... There is a lot of anger out there now.”
Since the Association of Professional Tour Caddies was formed last year the group has been trying to negotiate a deal with the Tour to receive a portion of the endorsement revenue from advertisements on bibs for health insurance and retirement benefits.
“As is usually the case with litigation we will have no comment,” said Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communications.
Egdorf also filed an order for injunction relief to protect caddies from retribution from the Tour or their players for participating in the lawsuit.
“We heard rumblings that the Tour has asked if players would dismiss caddies who were involved in a potential lawsuit,” Egdorf said. “We had no choice but to file the case.”
The lawsuit is seeking “past and future compensation” and Egdorf estimates the final settlement could reach “well into nine figures.”
Mike Hicks and Kenny Harms (who caddies for Kevin Na) are the lead plaintiffs in the case, but the list also includes the high-profile likes of Paul Tesori (Webb Simpson), Jimmy Johnson (Steve Stricker), Damon Green (Zach Johnson) and James Edmondson (Ryan Palmer).
“What would happen if five or six years from now FedEx decided they want more exposure and said they wanted the players to wear their logo on their shirts? There’s no way they’d ever allow that,” said one Tour caddie on Tuesday at Torrey Pines.