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Thursday, August 03, 2006
California Court to Give Injured Golfer a Trial

A California Court has reversed a lower court's decision granting summary judgment to a defendant who was sued after injuring another golfer. While the defendant may, of course, win at trial, the decision appears to put California at odds with the Hawai`i Supreme Court's decision, which I discussed in this post. (The attorney representing the golfer injured by Jamal Mashburn should get his hands on this California decision).

The case is Shin v. Ahn, 2006 WL 2042891 (Cal. App. 2006), which can be downloaded (free registration required) from Findlaw here, and is covered a news story here. The facts underlying the dispute, according to the appellate court's opinion:
On August 10, 2003, [Ahn], Shin, Jeffrey Frost and a fourth unidentified man were grouped together to play a round of golf at Rancho Park Golf Course. . . .[Shin] stopped on the cart path before the tee box and then got a water bottle out of his bag and checked his phone for messages. In the vicinity of the thirteenth hole, before anyone had begun to tee off, Shin made eye contact with [Ahn] as he stood to the front and left of [Ahn].

[Ahn]'s practice on the tee was to back away from the ball and take one practice swing. When he took his practice swing on the thirteenth hole, he did not know where Shin was. He did not see anyone on the fairway at that time. After his practice swing, he stepped forward and focused on the ball for approximately 15 to 20 seconds until he struck it. [Ahn] did not know where Shin was when he teed off. After he hit the ball, he looked up to see Shin on the ground approximately 25 to 35 feet away; he was to the left of appellant at about a 40 to 45-degree angle from him toward the upper tee box. [Ahn]'s ball had hit Shin in the head.
Applying the doctrine of primary assumption of risk, the trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the appellate court rejected the application of this doctrine to the facts:
the undisputed evidence submitted on summary judgment showed that [Ahn], who was in the same threesome as Shin, failed to establish Shin's whereabouts at the time he teed off. He conceded that there was "[n]o particular reason" why he did not wait to tee off until he knew where Shin was standing. . . . as a matter of law, [Ahn] owed Shin a duty of care . . . This duty included the duty to ascertain Shin's whereabouts before hitting the ball. . . . [I]mposing a duty on a golfer to determine the whereabouts of the individuals in his group before teeing off does nothing to alter or destroy the nature of the activity.

The court's holding is that failing to check for the location of the golfers in one's own group increases the risks inherent in golf, and is thus outside of the primary assumption of risk doctrine.

Is the distinction between Shin and the Hawai`i case regarding whether the injured and injurer are within the same foursome an adequate basis to justify different legal outcomes?



I didn't read the entire article, but I got a general understanding by looking at the picture:

Robots are taking over the PGA.

I think we all saw this coming.

Best Regards,
Rod Biscoe

P.S. Rod Biscoe's Blogspot "It's Delicious."

Blogger Rod Biscoe -- 8/04/2006 2:04 AM  

Not being a lawyer, I can't make a legal assessment of the judge's decision. I can, however, make a common sense assessment, and in doing so, it's clear to me that this is a waste of taxpayer's money, and the court's time. I golf, and only an idiot would stand anywhere in front of a group about to tee off, regardless of whether they have announced their intention to do so.

For a judge to suggest that --while teeing off, at the moment when the sport demands that I narrow my focus to the utmost in order to execute a proper golf swing-- I should be required to make sure some jackass hasn't decided to make a cell-phone call somewhere in front of me is patently absurd.

Anonymous John J Perricone -- 8/04/2006 4:50 PM  

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