- Caddies lose "human billboard" action against PGA Tour
- Group argued they should be compensated for wearing sponsored bibs
- Judge dismisses the action saying caddies sign contract with the Tour
(CNN)It was said they were treated like "dogs" and denied a share of $50 million a year in advertising revenue.
But a group of disgruntled caddies has lost its lawsuit against the PGA Tour after a judge refuted their claim they were nothing more than "human billboards."
The 168 bagmen had argued they should be compensated for wearing bibs that advertise a tournament's sponsor, estimating the annual amount of advertising they wear at $50m.
However, a judge has dismissed the complaint, stating the contracts the caddies signed with the Tour specified the requirements for badges and uniforms.
"The caddies' overall complaint about poor treatment by the Tour has merit, but this federal lawsuit about bibs does not. The complaint is dismissed with prejudice," U.S district judge Vince Chhabria wrote in his ruling.
"Caddies have been required to wear the bibs for decades.
"So caddies know, when they enter the profession, that wearing bibs during a tournament is part of the job. In other words the bib is a primary part of a caddie's uniform.
"And the contracts the caddies signed with the Tour require them to wear the uniforms prescribed by the Tour.
"For that reason there is no merit to the caddies' contention that the contracts somehow prevent the tour from requiring them to wear bibs. Nor does the bib requirement implicate federal antitrust or trademark law."
The caddies had also complained of poor working conditions and that the Tour did not treat them with "common human decency."
They pointed to an example from February last year where they were forced to seek shelter from a thunderstorm in their cars or under open metal sheds while players and spectators were allowed inside.
Included in the suit was a quote from ESPN's analyst Scott Van Pelt who said the Tour treated its caddies like "outside dogs."
The lawyer for the group, Richard Meadow of Lanier Law Firm, told CNN the caddies were "disappointed" with the ruling and considering their options, but pleased the court had acknowledged their poor treatment.
"Regardless of the eventual outcome, our clients are hopeful that the issues raised by this litigation and resulting public awareness will bring positive changes in how caddies are viewed and treated by the PGA Tour," he said.
The Tour said in a statement given to Associated Press: "We look forward to putting this matter behind us and moving forward in a positive direction with the caddies."