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PGA Tour caddies file appeal, seek to overturn bib decision

OAKMONT, Pa. -- A group of caddies have filed an appeal in San Francisco seeking to overturn a ruling that dismissed a lawsuit seeking payment and damages for being required to wear bibs with sponsor advertising during PGA Tour events.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 168 caddies, alleges the PGA Tour is violating federal antitrust laws by forcing them to advertise for the tour and its sponsors without compensation.

Caddies are not employed by the PGA Tour, but rather by the players as independent contractors. However, caddies sign contracts with the Tour stipulating they will follow certain rules, including the wearing of the bibs.

In the original lawsuit, filed in January 2015, lawyers for the caddies estimated the value of the advertising on the bibs at $50 million a year, for which the caddies received no compensation. Caddies are not prohibited from signing their own sponsorship deals, but the bibs cover "valuable real estate on the caddies' shirts that they otherwise use to secure their own sponsors,'' said the Lanier Law Firm, which is handling the case.

Per policy, the PGA Tour declined to comment on the litigation.

As part of the appeal, the lawsuit cited an ESPN segment by Scott Van Pelt in which the SportsCenter anchor "defended the caddies" and said the tour "treated them like 'outside dogs.'"

Their claims were dismissed in February by the U.S. District court of the Northern District of California in February, but the June 15 filing in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals argues that the dismissal was made in error.

The 66-page brief includes several reasons the case should be allowed to continue, among them focusing on issues not included in the caddies' lawsuit.