BE "FORE" WARNED!
The Indiana Court of Appeals recently held that a participant in a golf scramble was not entitled to maintain a lawsuit for injuries she sustained when she was hit in the mouth by an errant golf ball. The suit was brought by Cassie Pfenning, who was sixteen years old when she volunteered to operate a beverage cart at a scramble sponsored by a bar called Whitey's and held at the Elks golf course in Marion.
Cassie was on a cart path near the 18th hole when, without having heard any warning, she was struck in the mouth by a golf ball that had traveled more than two hundred feet. She sustained injuries to her mouth, jaw and teeth. She filed suit against the golfer who had hit the ball, the sponsor of the scramble and the Elks lodge where the scramble was held.
The court rejected the plaintiff's claims. In doing so, it noted longstanding Indiana law which has held that there is no duty from one participant in a sports activity to another to prevent injury resulting from an inherent risk of the sport. Cassie's attorneys argued that she was not a "participant" in the golf scramble because she was only driving a beverage cart, but the court rejected that argument. The court held that although Cassie was not actually playing golf herself, she clearly was a part of the sports event involved. Because being hit by a stray golf ball is one of the inherent risks in the game, the plaintiff was not entitled to maintain her lawsuit.
The decision is Pfenning v. Lineman, 922 N.E.2d 45 (Ind. App. 2010).