Golfer Beaned In Head Allowed a Jury Trial Against Fellow Golfer
On December 5, 2017, Westchester County Supreme Court Justice William J. Giacomo, denied summary judgment (pre-trial dismissal) to a golfer who was struck in the head while playing in a threesome at the Lake Isle Country Club. The defendant Mac Donald and the plaintiff were experienced golfers and were part of a threesome that had completed twelve holes before the accident occurred. Usually, the general rule of "assumption of the risk" doctrine precludes a lawsuit for money damages when someone is injured by a risk which is inherent in and arises out of the ordinary nature of the sporting activity. However, the Court found reason not to apply the general rule and wisely allowed this case to proceed to a jury trial so that a jury could decide all issues.
The facts leading up to the accident were not in dispute. Both player's (plaintiff and defendant) "hit their tee shot and then their second shot." The plaintiff's second shot went over to the left of the fairway and the defendant's shot went to the right of the fairway in the rough amongst a covering of leaves. "However, the defendant, knowing that she would not be able to find the ball because of the leaves, dropped another ball and hit a "mulligan" shot" which went wildly off course and struck the plaintiff in the head. The Court found that since the defendant took a "mulligan" shot without warning the other golfers in her threesome, a jury could reasonably find that "amounted to intentional or reckless conduct that unreasonably increased the risk inherent in golf" which would overcome the assumption of risk defense.
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