Tournament Organizer Did Enough To Protect ‘Business Invitee’

Apr 7, 2006

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that dismissed a plaintiff’s claim that a golf tournament organizer was negligent when it did not provide sufficient safety barriers between the tee boxes on a golf range.
The plaintiff, Tim R. Martins, was injured at a golf tournament at the Holly Hills Country Club in Maryland, which was being managed by the defendant, Kemper Sports Management, Inc. Martins sued claiming Kemper breached its duty by not installing plastic barriers that could have prevented his injury.
The court granted Kemper’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.
The panel of judges noted that under Maryland law, a cause of action in negligence must demonstrate “(1) that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) that the defendant breached that duty, (3) that the plaintiff suffered actual injury or loss, and (4) that the loss or injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of the duty.” Rhaney v. University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 388 Md. 585, 880 A.2d 357, 363-64 (Md. 2005).
“Martins was a business invitee on Kemper’s business premises,” noted the court. “In Maryland, a business owner owes a business invitee ‘a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the premises safe and to protect the invitee from injury caused by an unreasonable risk which the invitee, by exercising ordinary care for his own safety, will not discover.’ Southland Corporation v. Griffith, 332 Md. 704, 633 A.2d 84, 91 (Md. Ct. App. 1993).”
“Martins and Kemper agree that there is no industry standard or law requiring safety barriers on driving ranges. Kemper’s experts testified that the majority of public driving ranges do not have plastic barriers and at private country clubs like Holy Hills barriers are extremely rare. It is not contested that Kemper foresaw the possibility of one golfer hitting another golfer on the driving range. However, simply because Kemper did not install plastic barriers does not mean it did not take reasonable care to protect golfers on its premises. Indeed, Kemper installed a barrier that was more protective than the majority of other ranges. Because Martins failed to establish that Kemper breached its duty to take reasonable and ordinary care to protect its business invitees, the district court did not err in granting Kemper’s summary judgment motion.”
Tim R. Martins v. Kemper Sports Management, Inc. et al.; 4th Cir.; No. 04-2502; 2/28/06
Attorneys of Record: (for appellant) David L. Kwass of Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, Philadelphia, Pa. (for appellee) Michael P. Chervenak of Hartel, Kane, Desantis, Macdonald & Howie, L.L.P., Greenbelt, Maryland.


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