Payton & Associates, LLC
Commercial Litigation Attorneys
Miami, Florida

Golf star Rory McIlroy sued for breach of contract

Florida readers are aware that sports stars earn impressive incomes for their athletic performance. However, most of the world's best-known professional athletes earn far more off the court or field, raking in massive contracts to endorse or market a vast range of products and services. Rory McIlroy, the top ranking golfer in the world, is a prime example of the money that can be made through such endorsement deals. But the golfer is now making headlines for a different reason, as the subject of a major breach of contract lawsuit by one of his sponsors.

Oakley is suing both McIlroy and Nike over a dispute concerning the contract between McIlroy and Oakley. The provisions of that contract include a "right of first refusal" issued to Oakley. This inclusion would allow Oakley the chance to approach McIlroy to present a competing offer against any other sponsorship or marketing deal offered by another company.

Within the suit, Oakley claims that Nike has negotiated a new deal with the golfer. Oakley claims to have submitted an offer to match the terms of that deal, but that offer was not addressed by the star or his agent. In this way, Oakley claims that it was denied the right of first refusal as outlined in the contract.

The contract with Oakley expires on Dec. 31. McIlroy has not announced any plans to represent Nike. However, Oakley is claiming that McIlroy's refusal to renew his existing contract has caused the company irreparable damage, including the loss of $300,000 for a photo shoot of the star and products he was meant to promote in 2013. The company is asking for an injunction that would prevent Nike and McIlroy from moving forward with their contract.

This case serves as an illustration of the significant worth of hiring a famous athlete to promote goods and services. It also demonstrates the importance of having clearly defined and comprehensively outlined terms within a contract. In the end, the outcome of this breach of contract dispute may rest on how the contract between the parties was drafted. No matter the size of a Florida business or the value of a contract, it is always a solid business practice to use clearly defined contracts.

Source: Clarion Ledger, "Rory McIlroy lawsuit: No. 1 golfer sued by Oakley for breach of contract," Dec. 18, 2012

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