A NJ Superior Court judge has refused to extend the duty to yell “fore” beyond the player swinging the club.
Plaintiff James Corino was in the 15th fairway when he paused to allow a threesome to tee off on the 16th hole, which ran parallel to his, separated by a stand of trees. After each member of the threesome hit his ball, Corino prepared to take his shot. What Corino did not know is that one member of the threesome, Defendant Kyle Duffy, teed up a mulligan and swung away. Neither Duffy, nor either of his playing partners announced the second shot. Duffy’s shot struck Corino in the face, breaking his sunglasses and sending glass into his eye, which required multiple surgeries to restore his vision.
The lawsuit was brought against all members of the threesome, charging that Duffy and his companions all acted recklessly by allowing Duffy the mulligan and failing to warn Corino. The two non-swinging members of the threesome moved for summary judgment dismissing them from the case. Corino opposed.
The controlling case is Schick v. Ferolito, 167 N.J. 7 (2001), in which a golfer failed to announce a second tee shot and hit another player in the eye. In Schick, The Appellate Division ruled that the negligence standard applied, but the state Supreme Court reversed, finding it necessary for the plaintiff to demonstrate reckless or intentional conduct.
In the instant matter, the Judge found that under Schick, Duffy’s state of mind was key in determining if the conduct was reckless. He rejected Plaintiff’s claim that all three players made the decision to allow Duffy to take a second shot, holding that it was solely Duffy’s decision. Accordingly, the Judge dismissed the non-swinging companions from the suit, but left Duffy as a proper defendant.