Fore-warned is….. irrevelant: Anand v. Kapoor, 222, New York State Court of Appeals (Albany)

January 31, 2011

accident, Negligence

Read the Case transcripts here: http://www.newyorkinjurycasesblog.com/uploads/file/Court%20of%20Appeals%202010.pdf (2010) and http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2009/2009_03110.htm (2009 Appellate)

This case concerned an amateur golf game on Oct 19 2002 between three friends: Dr Anand, Dr Kapoor and Balram Verma in Suffolk County. Each player had hit two shots and separated to retrieve their respective golf balls. (While Dr Anand’s landed on the Fairway, Kapoor’s landed 20ft or so behind it in the rough).

On finding his ball, Dr Kapoor, unaware of where the other golfers were, decided not to wait and took his next shot. Unfortunately he shanked it 50 degrees and struck the claimant in the eye, causing retinal detachment and a permanent loss of vision. The claim focuses on whether the failure to warn the other players (by shouting “fore”) amounted to negligence. For a discussion on why some commentators think the claim should have been made in recklessness, see: http://overlawyered.com/2009/05/new-york-court-says-golfers-arent-required-to-yell-fore/comment-page-1/#comment-47831 and http://www.newyorkinjurycasesblog.com/2009/05/articles/eye-and-vision-injuries/newest-ruling-in-golf-course-cases-plaintiff-hit-in-eye-by-errant-shot-loses-vision-and-case/

The Supreme Court, Appellate Division Second Department, and now the New York State Court of Appeals dismissed the complaint and granted summary judgment on two grounds:

  • Anand was not in the foreseeable “zone of danger”.  Effectively, the Court held that while there was an obligation to yell “fore” if the other person was in such a “zone”, this was not the case here as the claimant was at least 50 degrees and 20ft away from Kapoor. A misdirected shot of such poor quality could not therefore be foreseen so no warning was needed. (The Judge obviously hasn’t seen me play!)
  •  Even if he was in a “zone of danger”, the Court held that Anand assumed the risk of injury by playing golf. Indeed, even though Kapoor did not call out “fore” or any other warning, this did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct or unreasonably increase the inherent risks of golf.

Interestingly, CBS reported (http://www.cbs12.com/articles/anand-4730174-kapoor-golfer.html) that Anand’s counsel unsuccessfully argued that the zone of danger differed with the skill of the player (reminiscent of Condon v. Basi – different duties of care for different leagues anyone?)

What nobody so far seems to have picked up is the difference between UK and US Golf. In the UK case of Pearson v. Lightning (1998) 95(20) LSG 33, which concerned a similar eye-injury from a mis-hit ball out of the rough, the defendant was held liable for his decision to play the shot at that particular time given the presence of other players ahead of him. Lord Justice Simon Brown in giving the leading opinion for the Court of Appeal stated that the risk of a mis-hit was a real risk for every golfer and this risk was increased by the lie of the ball in the rough.

Recklessness was also addressed by the claimant’s expert witness who stated: “I find it difficult to understand how players of handicaps as high as sixteen and above undertake shots over trees with players within one hundred yards of where they are hitting from. In my opinion, it is absolutely reckless and inconsiderate and a complete breach of the etiquette observed by sensible players.”

While the rules of golf might be the same the world over, it would seem that “zoning laws” have different interpretations depending on where the case is brought.

Advertisements
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About Kris

Associate Professor in Sports Law, Staffordshire University; British Gymnastics Senior Coach

View all posts by Kris

Follow us:

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: