Yacht maker responds to ruling in Tiger Woods’ lawsuit

VANCOUVER, Wash. - Christensen Shipyards, Ltd., a luxury yacht builder based in Vancouver, Washington, is disappointed with a recent court ruling that allows a 2004 lawsuit filed by golfer Tiger Woods to stay in Florida, despite Christensen's request for a change of venue to Washington state, the company said in a release earlier this week.

The company said there is a contract between the golfer and itself that clearly states the venue for "any suit or action ... filed by any party to enforce this Agreement or in connection with the subject matter of this Agreement, ... shall be in the Superior Court for Clark County, Washington."

Christensen's President and COO, Joe Foggia, said he is disappointed that Woods has chosen to pursue litigation in Florida against the privately held Northwest employer.

"We are surprised to learn that the lawsuit -- which we believe to be misguided -- will continue in Florida, despite the fact that Mr. Woods agreed to the jurisdiction of the Washington courts," Foggia said.

The suit alleges that Christensen violated Woods' right of publicity by making it known that Woods had purchased a Christensen yacht, an allegation that Christensen refutes. Foggia said the decision is very disappointing to the company and its employees, calling the lawsuit "frivolous and misguided."

"The contract we signed with Mr. Woods makes it crystal clear as to the parties' rights,” Foggia said. “We, as a company, lived up to our side of the bargain -- as we always do -- and it calls into question whether Mr. and Mrs. Woods read the contract that their representatives signed. This lawsuit is utterly baseless."

At issue in the lawsuit are two key provisions regarding the use of photographs and the company's right to promote its product. Christensen said that according to the contract, it can "take and use photographs of the Motor Yacht during construction, and before and after delivery for purposes of Builder's publishing, trade, advertising, or general purpose, along with printed matter."

The company went on to say that the contract further grants it the right to "disclose orally to any prospective purchaser of its products, or to the media when asked, that [the Company] sold the Motor Yacht to a corporation in which Customer's principal [Woods] has an interest."

Christensen said the lawsuit wrongfully accuses it of orchestrating a national marketing campaign around the Woods' February 2004 purchase of a Christensen yacht. Also at issue in the lawsuit is whether Christensen deliberately sought to exploit the purchase " ... for commercial purposes and financial gain." The suit seeks more than $50,000,000 "without any explanation to support such a claim," according to Christensen's legal counsel, Casey Marshall of English, Lane, and Marshall, PLLC.

"If this action continues, we are confident the facts will come to light, and reveal the extent to which the legal representatives for Mr. Woods have done him a great disservice," Foggia said. "By insisting on pursuing a baseless claim at a great expense and inconvenience to the company and the expense of more than 400 workers and their families, Mr. Woods is simply creating unnecessary publicity and attention."

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