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Follow-Up: 'Fore' Lawsuit in N.Y. Dismissed
An eight-year lawsuit is finally reaching an end. New York's top court ruled Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit involving two doctors who were playing a round when one of them hit an errant shot that injured the other.
Dr. Anoop Kapoor and Dr. Azad Anand were playing nine-hole Dix Hills Park Golf Course in October 2002 when Anand was hit in the head from a shot by Kapoor while looking for his ball in a fairway, blinding him in one eye. Siding with lower courts, the seven judges on the state Court of Appeals said Kapoor's failure to yell in advance of his errant shot from the rough did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct.
The court cited a judge's finding that Anand was not in the foreseeable zone of danger and, as a golfer, consented to the inherent risks of the sport.
In previous hearings, it became apparent that the two opposing parties could not agree about the distance each golfer was away from the other and the angles of the fateful shot.
Kapoor also claimed that he did shout a warning after he hit his ball - a claim denied by Anand and a third player in their group. (For more background, visit http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/fore_heavens_sake.)
"What this now means," Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, told New York Times' reporter Michael S. Schmidt, "is that when you play golf in New York, you are only liable for hitting someone" if that person is in front of you.
In 2007, the California State Court of Appeals ruled similarly, saying golfers were not responsible for injuries sustained by fellow players on the same course.
Because New York and California are two of the leading states in tort law, and that both states ruled the same way, "(the latest ruling) will almost certainly have larger implications for the rest of the country," Tobias told Schmidt.
Dalton B. Floyd, a lawyer in Surfside Beach, S.C., who specializes in golf-related litigation, said courts have traditionally found that golfers are not liable for hitting golfers not in their intended paths.
"There is an inherent risk in golf that not everybody is going to hit a straight shot," Floyd told Schmidt. "It's different, however, if you are driving the ball and you normally hit 200 yards and there is a person 150 yards out and you hit them and don't yell 'Fore.' In that case, you have to warn them and, if you don't, you are liable."
Most issues arise, Floyd said, when a golfer hits someone on a green when the golfer thought the green was farther away. "Where we have the most controversy is with the suing of the clubs," he said of signage at facilities that shows the wrong yardage of a hole.
"A guy hits a 3-iron and thought he was 210 yards out, but the marker on the course was wrong and someone on the green is hit."
For Drs. Kapoor and Anand, this should bring an end to their legal fight, and probably means they won't be playing golf together anytime soon.