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
Bertin raised two theories for applying the ordinary
- A golf cart is a “motor vehicle” and thus is subject to the civil liability provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code.
- A golf cart is not an inherent component of the game of golf and thus doesn’t full under the “reckless misconduct” standard of care under
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 US Supreme Court in PGA Tour, Inc. v Martin
ruled that walking wasn’t an essential part
of golf and that using a golf cart wouldn’t change the nature of the game in
the context of the American with Disabilities claim.
The US Golf Association’s Rules of Golf don’t
refer to golf carts.
The Farmington Hills Golf Course doesn’t require
the use of golf carts.
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.
Labels: Court of Appeals, Golf Cart, Golf Course, Michigan Appeals, Motor Vehicle, Ordinary Negligence, published opinion, Reckless Misconduct