Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shin v. Ahn (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Aug. 30, 2007)

You can't generally sue if someone accidentally whacks you in the head with a golf ball while you're playing golf. Even if they don't yell "Fore". Even if they were negligent. By contrast, if they're totally reckless; well, that's another matter. Go ahead and sue.

That's what the California Supreme Court decides today. It applies the primary assumption of the risk doctrine to the noncontact sport of golf. When you play golf, you assume the risk that some nimrod will shank a ball into your face. That's golf. Deal with it.

Justice Kennard, who's never liked the primary assumption of the risk doctrine to begin with, continues her disagreement. But she's the only one, and the decision is a 6-1. So the law is that you gotta protect yourself rather than rely upon the nonnegligence of others. Hopefully a full suit of body armor won't get in the way of your swing.

The footnotes in this one are unintentionally hilarious. For example, footnote 3, which states, in its entirety: "Generally, in final preparation for hitting a stroke a golfer focuses his or her attention on the ball and does so until he or she has hit the shot." Obviously the justices haven't played a lot of rounds on muncipal golf courses lately. Or with incompetent duffers such as myself. Or footnote 6, which defines "shanking," or footnote 7, which defines what a "mulligan" is.

I was surprised not to see a footnote defining what a "five dollar Nassau" is. Which is equally, if not more, essential to the game, no?