Question

Whitey's 31 Club, Inc., a Marion, Indiana, tavern, sponsored an annual golf outing. The 2006 event was held at a Marion golf course operated by Elks Country Club Lodge #195. Persons wishing to participate signed up on a poster board that had been hung on a wall at the tavern. Each golfer paid a charge of $45 to the Elks, which provided the golf carts and the beverages that were made available to the golfers. Whitey's provided the sign-up list to the Elks, which then made cart signs, team sheets, score cards, and starting hole assignments. Cassie Pfenning, then 16 years old, attended the outing at the invitation of her grandfather and with the permission of her mother. The grandfather previously had signed up at Whitey's as a volunteer to drive a beverage cart at the event. He brought Pfenning with him for company. Shortly after Pfenning and her grandfather arrived at the event, he retrieved a gasoline motor-powered beverage cart for their use. It had a large cooler on the back containing water, soda pop, and beer. The beverage cart had no windshield and no roof. Shortly after providing Pfenning with the beverage cart, the grandfather joined a shorthanded group of golfers and left Pfenning at the beverage cart with her great aunt. Within about ten minutes, the great aunt joined another group of golfers. An employee of Whitey's, Christie Edwards, then joined Pfenning and was present with her on the beverage cart during the event. Pfenning drove the cart, and Christie served the beverages to groups of golfers on the golf course for about three and a half hours. After making several trips around the golf course, Pfenning was struck in the mouth by a golf ball while driving the beverage cart on the cart path approaching the 18th hole's tee pad. The ball was a low drive from the 16th tee, approximately 80 yards away. The golfer's drive traveled straight for 60 to 70 yards and then severely hooked to the left. The golfer, Joseph Lineman, noticed the roof of another cart in the direction of the shot and shouted "fore," but neither Pfenning nor her beverage-serving companion heard anyone shout "fore." After hearing a faint yelp, the golfer ran in the direction of the errant ball and saw Pfenning in an injured state. She suffered injuries to her mouth, jaw, and teeth. Pfenning later filed a negligence lawsuit in an Indiana court against Whitey's, the Elks, her grandfather, and Lineman. The Elks sought summary judgment, arguing that participants and spectators in sporting events are precluded from recovery for injuries that result from the sport's inherent dangers. Lineman supported his request for summary judgment by contending that he had no duty of care to a co-participant at a sporting event with respect to risks inherent in the sport. Whitey's sought summary judgment, arguing that it was not subject to premises liability and did not otherwise owe any duty to the plaintiff, Pfenning's grandfather sought summary judgment on the ground that he did not have a legal duty to warn his granddaughter about the inherent risks of driving the beverage cart during the golf event. The trial court granted all four defendants' requests for summary judgment.
Was the trial court correct in doing so? In order to answer the question, consider possible duty and breach of duty issues in regard to each defendant.



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  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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