LawCall - Golf Storm

You have your tee time of 8:00 a.m. reserved at the club for every Saturday morning. And like most golfers, it is a rain or shine proposition. In other words, it takes some pretty harsh weather to keep you off the course.

But if there is inclement weather, and you decide to play anyway – who is responsible if you’re injured by an act of God – like lightning in a storm? That was the question for some golfers who couldn’t get off of the course fast enough when a storm blew up.

It was drizzly on this particular April morning, but the foursome checked with the club’s management before deciding to play. The manager checked the National Weather service, and while there was rain in the forecast, there was no warning for potential lightning. So off they went.

Not long after they began playing, the drizzle turned into a downpour, and then it subsided again. While on the third tee, one of the golfers noticed some lightning in the distance, and the four of them decided to head back to the clubhouse. Two of the men walked with umbrellas, the other two just made their way in the rain a few yards behind.

At about the same time, the caddie master learned of lightning in the area and jumped in a golf cart to get golfers off of the course. For many years the club had followed an evacuation plan of driving to warn players of dangerous weather.

Suddenly, one of the two golfers with an umbrella appeared to go up in flames, and moments later, the other man with an umbrella fell to the ground after flames shot up his legs. Both men had serious burns, and one of them spent almost a month in a burn unit.

They decided to sue the golf club claiming it didn’t have proper procedures to warn patrons of lightning. They also maintained that a golf course should have warning sirens and lightning shelters.

Who do you think is responsible – the golf club, or the golfers?

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