Tiger Woods Loses Million-Dollar Autograph Lawsuit
After more than 45 minutes of testimony from Tiger Woods on Monday following his dismal final round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, a Miami-Dade jury found ETW, Woods’ company, liable “for deceptive and unfair trade practices” and awarded $668,000 (about $1.3 million with interest) to golf memorabilia retailer Bruce Matthews of Gotta Have It Golf, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Eric Isicoff, one of Matthews’ attorneys. “The behavior of ETW Corporation has been reprehensible and we are very pleased with the jury’s verdict.”
ETW is expected to appeal.
Woods received a trial subpoena to testify in Miami-Dade Circuit Court the night before the start of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.
Bruce Matthews, President of South Miami-based Gotta Have It Golf, a golf memorabilia retailer, sued Woods’ Corporation, ETW, for $1.75 million (and another $1 million in attorney’s fees, a matter which remains pending before the court) claiming that Woods breached a 2001 agreement by failing to provide them with a certain number of autographs and photographs.
This isn’t the first time Gotta Have It Golf and ETW have locked horns. In 1997, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Woods (through Golden Bear Golf, Inc., AP Enterprises and ETW Corp.) collectively brought suit against Matthews and Gotta Have It Golf to stop the unauthorized sale of their images and signatures. Gotta Have It Golf countersued, adding IMG as a defendant, and the judge’s decision set an antitrust law precedent 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.”