Tiger Woods Lawsuit: Golfer Loses in Court Over Autographs

Monday, 17 Mar 2014 03:53 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A lawsuit against Tiger Woods' ETW company was upheld last week by a Miami-Dade County circuit court, which said the company is liable for deceptive and unfair trade practices.

Gotta Have It Golf Inc., which is run by South Miami resident Bruce Matthews, charged that Woods did not provide a specific number of autographs and photographs he agreed to under a 2001 licensing agreement, reported the Miami Herald.

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Woods testified in the case for more than 45 minutes on March 10. The day before at the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship in Doral, Fla., Woods finished 25th after suffering back spasms in the final round of the tournament.

Eric Isicoff, one of Matthews' attorneys, said Gotta Have it Golf was awarded $668,000, which will become $1.3 million with interest, by an all-female civil jury.

ETW is expected to appeal.

"This has been a long time coming," Isicoff said, according to the Herald. "The behavior of ETW Corp. has been reprehensible and we are very pleased with the jury's verdict."

Matthews' request for ETW to play his $1 million attorney bill remained pending.

Woods and other golfers have fought Gotta Have It Golf in court before. Jack Nicklaus and Golden Bear Golf, Inc.; Arnold Palmer and his AP Enterprises; and ETW collective sued Matthews' company in 1997 to stop what they claimed was unauthorized sale of their images and signatures, said Golf.com.

Gotta Have It Golf countersued, adding International Management Group as a third-party defendant. A judge ruled that a "sports and celebrity representation firm acting as professional golfers' agent could not conspire with its principal where agent's interests are aligned with those of the principal," said Golf.com.

Golf Digest reported that there are several Woods items for sale at the Gotta Have It Golf website, some of them signed, priced up to $2,340.

But the golfer's ailing back may be more of a concern for him than the lawsuit.

"As one of the greatest players to ever pick up a golf club, Woods clearly possesses the mental toughness to block out surrounding drama and sometimes even pain," The Bleacher Report's Patrick Clarke wrote. "However, the nagging back injury that forced Woods to withdraw from the final round of the Honda Classic earlier this month is proving more difficult than any other potential distraction, on or off the course."

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