California Court Grants Summary Judgment to Golf Facility in Concussion Case

Aug 16, 2019

While a lawsuit rages on between two men on the golf range, in which one man suffered a concussion when the other man’s golf club struck him in the head, the golf facility has been released from the case.
The incident occurred on December 4, 2016 at the Birnam Wood Golf Club (BWGC) driving range in Santa Barbara. Allegedly, plaintiff Alan Cerf bent down to place his ball on the tee when defendant William Woodward swung his club, hitting Cerf in the head. Cerf sued, claiming Woodward “stepped into (his) space as he swung his golf club. The defendant denied that and alleged that he was standing in his own stall taking a normal swing when the incident occurred.” Cerf is seeking “damages for hospital and medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.”
BWGC was originally named as a defendant. But in January of this year, it successfully moved for summary judgment, leaving Woodard as the only defendant.
In that ruling, the court noted that to prevail in a negligence claim, a plaintiff “must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty to use due care, that the defendant breached the duty, and that the breach was a proximate cause of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.” Ann M. V. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal. 4th 666, 673.
BWGC argued that it did not own the plaintiff a duty “to protect (him) from the type of harm that in inherent in the activity in which the plaintiff is engaged. Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal 4th 296, 320 (the assumption of risk doctrine bars liability for those injuries arising from the particular risks that are inherent in a sport).” Citing Dilger v. Moyles (1997) 54 Cal. App.4th 1452, 1454, it noted that “golf is an active sport to which the assumption of risk doctrine applies.”
Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the club was negligent because it failed to supervise the range and for failing to warn the plaintiff of the risks. To this point, the court noted that a golf facility “does not have a duty to eliminate risks inherent in the sport” by either supervising or warning golfers. American Golf Corporation v. Superior Court (2000) 79 Cal. App. 4th 30.
Alan Cerf v. William Woodward; Case no: 17CV00808; 1/7/19


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