When driving your golf cart on a golf course, ordinary negligence is the standard of care and not the “reckless misconduct” standard applicable to recreational activities according to the Michigan Court of Appeals in Bertin v Mann, No.328885.
Kenneth Bertin and Douglass Mann were playing golf at the Farmington Hills Golf Club on May 22, 2013. When they reached the 17th hole, Bertin got out of the cart, walked to the green where his ball was lying. As he began to walk toward his ball, Mann drove the cart, first knocking him down, then running over his leg causing injury.
Bertin sued Mann for negligence, alleging that Mann acted with “active negligence” and “without due care and caution” when he struck him with the cart. Mann raised two affirmative defenses. One, the event was an unforeseeable accident and, two, Bertin’s own negligence was the sole cause or contributing cause of the accident.
The parties disagreed on the applicable standard of care. Bertin argued it should be ordinary negligence while Mann argued it should be reckless misconduct under the case of Richie-Gamester because the parties were playing a game of golf, a recreational activity. The trial court agreed with Mann and the jury entered a verdict for him.
The Court of Appeals agreed with Bertin. It said that Richie doesn’t imply that where injury occurs during a recreational activity, the incident must be held to the reckless misconduct standard. “Indeed, we think it more likely that players participate with the expectation that no liability will arise unless a participant’s actions exceed the normal bounds of conduct associated with the activity.”
Bertin raised two theories for applying the ordinary negligence standard:
The court dismissed the motor vehicle argument but agreed with the argument that the risks associated with the using of a golf cart are not an inherent component of golf and thus not subject to the “reckless misconduct” standard of care.
The court applied the following reasoning:
The Court of Appeals, holding that the trial court applied the wrong standard of care, vacated the jury’s verdict, reversed the trial court’s verdict and remanded the case for further proceedings.