Welcome

I have discovered that there is no shortage of interesting, sometimes humorous and occasionally outright quirky legal disputes that have a golf connection. Please enjoy

I also invite you to join the Golf Dispute Resolution Linked In group, which you can access here.

Please don’t hesitate to share ideas for either the blog or the Linked In group.

By way of background, I am an attorney who serves as general counsel to a financial services company.  I also frequently serve as a mediator and arbitrator. And, of course,  I enjoy golf, most often at the Yale Golf Course. You can learn more about my experience here.

Now, for the required disclaimer, so I can remain in the good graces of the legal ethics powers-that-be:  This website, which may constitute Attorney Advertising in some jurisdictions, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Best,

Rob Harris
rharris@golfdisputeresolution.com
914-482-2448

 

 

By: Rob Harris

Sixty-nine year old William Wingate was arrested in July 2014 for the “crime” of walking with a golf club in downtown Seattle. While openly carrying a firearm apparently is legal under state law, strolling down the street with a five iron can get you carted to jail. Gotta love the Second Amendment.

If Mr. Wingate prevails on his $750,000 claim against the City of Seattle, his payday, although not in a Champions Tour sanctioned event,would place him #23 on the year’s money list, ahead of major winners Mark O’Meara (#25), Mark Brooks (#30), Corey Pavin (#40) and Tom Watson (#41). Pretty good effort for a man who carries one club, doesn’t use a caddie and maintains his cool in the face of unwanted and undeserved distractions.

Read the article, definitely watch the video, and then offer your over / under as to the date and amount of the settlement.

Here’s a link to an interesting article that emphasizes the importance of documenting the monetary aspect of disputes that may be headed to litigation.

The article discusses a decision recently issued by a Florid appellate court.

 

By: Rob Harris

Montreal has opted to stand up to developers who desire to turn a golf course into a residential development. City officials have changed the zoning to keep the land green, notwithstanding litigation that developers already have filed against a neighboring municipality that took similar action.

Commenting on the city’s action, the city’s executive committee member responsible for urban planning stated. “The city is already the object of legal action from the developer and I cannot imagine that the owner of that land is necessarily enchanted with this decision. But it’s the right decision and it’s a courageous one.”

By: Rob Harris

Perhaps the strongest virtue for parties including a broad arbitration provision in their contractual documents–whereby they agree to submit disputes to a private arbitrator rather than hash them out in a public courthouse–is confidentiality. Oftentimes, unwanted publicity is detrimental to one or both parties.

While other factors may play into the prudence of contracting for arbitration, the recently filed suit by the Back9 Network against its former CEO, Jamie Bosworth, demonstrates the advantages of confidentiality.

In its complaint, Back9 alleges that Bosworth breached a severance agreement by making “false and disparaging statements about the company’s financial outlook.” In public comments issued following the filing of the lawsuit, Bosworth’s attorney stated ”ee are surprised that the current Chairman Sandy Cloud would authorize a lawsuit that will assuredly prove to be detrimental to the interests of Back9. Mr. Bosworth created Back9 and remains its largest shareholder. He is eager to see Back9 succeed and is confident that it will with the right leadership.”

Gamesmanship, perhaps. But certainly not a game that will enhance confidence in the viability of Back9.

By: Rob Harris

On July 22, 2011, Robert Chesser left Minnesota’s Enger Park Golf Course Clubhouse with a blood alcohol content of .22.  His trip home was disrupted when he ran head on into another driver.

The injured driver’s brought suit against Chesser. That lawsuit was settled.

Subsequently, the driver brought suit against the company that managed the golf course. The company claimed that any liability to the driver was extinguished by virtue of the release of liability signed by the driver in his claim against Chesser.

Although the lower court bought this argument, the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently reversed that decision, finding there was no intent by the injured party to release the golf course management company. It is true, as the court acknowledged, that the release contained the following language:

“Undersigned hereby declares that the terms of this settlement have been completely read and are fully understood and voluntarily accepted for the purpose of making a full and final compromise adjustment and settlement of any and all claims,disputed or otherwise, on account of the injuries and damages above mentioned, and for the express purpose of precluding forever any further or additional claims arising out of the aforesaid accident.”

However, as the court determinatively noted, the release ran in favor of a limited audience, Mr. Chesser and his family. As it provided,

“For the sole consideration of Fifty Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($50,000.00), the undersigned . . . hereby releases and forever discharges Cheril Chesser and Robert Chesser, his/her/their heirs, executors, administrators, agents and assigns [hereinafter releasees].”

Since the golf course management company was not referenced as a releasee, it could not avail itself of the broader language in the release.

 

By: Rob Harris

PGA tournaments, on Thursdays and Fridays, typically utilize both the 1st and 10th tees, in order to accommodate the numbers of pre-cut players that need to complete their rounds. Suppose a hypothetical tour player with a 9:50 tee time arrives at the 1st tee on time, only to realize that he was earmarked to begin on no. 10. Would he be deemed to have arrived on time, even though he was on the incorrect tee?

Likely not.

In the world of golf litigation, however, the rule may not be so strict.

A group of Vail homeowners challenged the Vail Golf Course’s plans to expand its facilities. Having lost at the local level, the homeowners filed a lawsuit. The complaint was filed electronically, four days before the requisite deadline. The complaint, however, was filed with the incorrect court. Specifically, “the administrative assistant who filed it…selected the wrong district court (the Denver District Court) from the …. drop-down menu, rather than the Eagle County District Court that was noted on the caption.”

By the time the defect was noted, the filing deadline had passed.

The lower court dismissed the complaint, “rejecting the Homeowners’ ‘technical difficulties’ argument,” even going so far as to require the homeowners to pay the attorneys’ fees incurred by the prevailing party.

The Colorado Court of Appeals viewed the matter differently. On appeal, the court held that “the Homeowners E-Filed their … complaint with the Denver District Court on June 28, 2013, which was four days before Rule 106(b)’s jurisdictional deadline. The Rule 106(a)(4) complaint was thus ‘filed in the district court’ on June 28, 2013, and the Homeowners invoked district court jurisdiction — including that of the Eagle County District Court — on that date… The fact that the Homeowners E-Filed their Rule 106(a)(4) complaint with the Denver District Court, rather than with the Eagle County District Court, did not deprive the Eagle County District Court of its subject matter jurisdiction over the action.”

“Rule 106 does not state that district court jurisdiction over a Rule 106(a)(4) action is limited to the district court where a Rule
106(a)(4) complaint is originally filed.”

At least in Colorado courts, if not on the golf course, showing up at the 1st tee instead of the 10th, is sufficient.

 

By: Rob Harris

“Attendance at a special annual golf tournament, even one in memory of a family member, does not fall within the category excusing intentional violation of a known work rule.”

So ruled the Honorable Robert Simpson, Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

In this case, the tournament was held in honor of Jay A. Ryan Sr., father of Jay A. Ryan Jr. The younger Mr. Ryan sought to take a day off of work to attend the tournament. His request was denied by the company president on the basis that Mr. Ryan had no remaining vacation time.

Mr. Ryan nonetheless attended the tournament. He was fired from work for insubordination. His subsequent request for unemployment compensation was denied, with the court finding that his “unemployment is due to willful misconduct connected to his work.”

Before cringing at the thought of an employer refusing an employee’s request to attend his father’s memorial golf tournament, consider the following:

  • The previous month, Mr. Ryan “either left work early, or was late to work, every day for a week. In response, Employer gave Claimant a written disciplinary warning regarding his poor attendance.”
  • Mr. Ryan submitted into evidence a purported email from his boss, stating “I have reconsidered your request. You will be off August 16 for your father’s golf tournament. Instead, you will work your regularly scheduled day off on Wednesday August 14.” The boss, however, claimed that she “absolutely did not” send that email, and the tribunal apparently concluded that Mr. Ryan somehow had fabricated it.

By: Rob Harris

The internet is providing a meta-forum for the adversarial presentations of litigation combatants pertaining to the right to utilize a golf course property as the repository for water run off.

Estero Bay Improvement Association is a master association comprised of sixteen condominium associations. In 2005, EBIA entered into an agreement with a golf club pursuant to which the club was to be compensated for accommodating water run off from EBIA’s members. New owners came along and purchased the course, renamed it Fort Myers Beach Golf Club, and subsequently closed the club.

Litigation bargaining chip: The current owner disavows that the club is bound by the agreement, claiming that the document was not formally recorded on the land records. EBIA claims that the owner is bound, having had actual knowledge of the agreement.

Expressing a desire to consider financial alternatives (sure, happy to settle if the $$$ are right), the course owner has commenced litigation against the member associations of EBIA.

Seeking to wins hearts and minds beyond the confines of the courthouse, each side has launched a website advancing its respective position.

EBIA’s site can be found here, and that of the course owner is here.

 

 

 

By: Rob Harris

The LA Times headline reads as follows:

“Vets lose L.A. golf tournament tickets after VA cancels parking deal”

As I read the article, however, a more accurate headline might be:

“LA Open continues to honor free admission for veterans and families, notwithstanding VA’s last minute cancellation of parking deal”

According to the article, the Department of Veterans Affairs for a number of years has permitted Northern Trust Open satellite parking at one of its facilities. In consideration, the tournament historically has provided 2000 tickets for veterans, family and friends.

As a result of certain legal proceedings challenging the VA’s use of its property, the VA has withdrawn permission for use of the facility. The tournament, in turn, has asked the VA to return the 2000 tickets. According to the article, however:

“The tournament will honor 800 tickets the veterans agency had already handed out, and veterans can download online vouchers that will admit them to the tournament, Neal said. The vouchers are for veterans and their immediate families only, while the tickets can be shared with friends.”

 

By: Rob Harris

Could it be that Donald Trump has embarked on a litigation mission to vindicate the five senses?

A few years ago, the Donald announced plans to save Scotland, going so far as to testify before the Scottish Parliament, in an effort to save the golfers on his new Aberdeen golf course from offending their eyes by having to view the assertedly unsightly wind turbines being erected offshore.

Now, Mr. Trump has brought suit against Palm Beach County, complaining about the noise caused by the airplanes flying over his Mar-a-Lago Club, located just five minutes from his Trump International golf course.

With sight and noise covered, smell, taste and touch remain. Bingo.

 

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