Quick Case Summary – Injury from Fall on the Golf Course

Lawsuit by golfer who fell on a golf course in Ohio does not proceed to the next stage of litigation.

Golfer’s Version of Facts: Golfer alleged that the golf course was “negligent in creating a dangerous condition by improperly repairing the sod on the course, by failing to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition, and by failing to warn (her) of the hidden danger of a man-made hole”. The golfer’s husband testified that the hole was a “man-made trench” and that he saw what he believed to be a piece of drainage tile.

Golf Course’s Version of Facts: The golf course disputed these allegations and responded that  there “was no evidence that the hole was man-made and had been covered up by an employee.” The Director of Golf testified testified “that there had been no construction or digging in the area … that (the golf course) had not had any problems with the ground in that area … and the golf course had not used sod at any time to cover a hole in the area.” He also testified that heavy rain had fallen on the golf course one or two days previously and it looked like “some dirt had washed away beneath the grass”.

The Court’s Ruling: The golfer offered no evidence that the golf course had failed to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. The golf course had not created a hazard, done any repair work, or had notice of an unsafe condition in the vicinity of the accident. Inference of negligence on behalf of the golf course was mere speculation.

What it Means: The golfer’s case against the golf course effectively ends. They are not liable for the injury the golfer suffered when she fell on the golf course.

My “Spin”: When an injury occurs on your golf course, document the circumstances as thoroughly as possible. The Director of Golf testifed that when he looked at the area after the accident it looked as though the earth had washed away beneath the grass. Take photographs of the site to support your impressions of the cause of the accident. Perhaps have others take a look at the situation such as the superintendent or members of the mainenance staff. This first-hand information can be helpful to your insurance company in defending the lawsuit and help lead to a favorable result.

Link to Decision:

NITKIEWICZ v. VALLEYWOOD GOLF COURSE, 2011 Ohio 800 – Ohio: Court of Appeals, 6th Appellate Dist. 2011

Disclaimer: This is not intended as legal advice. The facts of every situation are different and the law varies from state to state. The content of this post is meant for illustrative purposes only. Please contact me at michael@golflawyer.com to discuss the application of the law to your unique set of facts.