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

Financial obligations between private golf clubs and their members typically are matters of corporate governance and contract. New members ordinarily enter into a membership agreement with the club that will set forth many of the rights and obligations of members. The agreements often will specify that the club’s bylaws govern, and that the bylaws may be amended.

Scottsdale (Arizona’s) Desert Mountain Club recently filed suit against former–and potentially current–members Thomas and Barbara Clark. The club claims that the Clarks’ purported termination violates the club rules as set forth in their membership agreement and the club’s bylaws, as amended. The club asserts that the Clarks are subjected to a surrender list, and that they maintain the obligation to pay dues and a substantial surrender fee to extricate themselves from their obligations. The complaint sets forth a series of bylaw revisions over the years, and asks as its first claim of relief that the court declare the club’s interpretation of these governing documents to be as it contends.

A website maintained by former member Gary Moselle presents a competing version of the club’s interpretation of the various documents. The website also includes a February 10, 2015 letter from a law firm to Mr. and Ms. Clark, purporting to outline the defense to the litigation that the Clarks can mount. The letter suggests that, under Arizona law, the club may have difficulty convincing a court to subject members to onerous surrender terms based upon bylaws that were amended subsequent to the execution of the membership agreement.

By: Rob Harris

Christopher Walsh and his wife have sued Florida’s Boca Raton Resort & Club, seeking refund of their membership fees and  the return of “several items that they say were left in their club locker at the time they were kicked out: a set of golf clubs, various clothing items, and ’2 pairs [of] flip-flops,’ among other belongings.”

The basis for their suit? As reported, he alleges that the club

“served him ‘excessive amounts of alcohol … over a relatively short amount of time’ despite his history of alcoholism.     The staff had seen Walsh drinking too much in the past, and they should have put limits on how much he could be served…     Instead, …he drank to his heart’s desire and ‘suffered impaired judgment and loss of self control.’     Fed up with Walsh’s drunken behavior, the resort terminated his club membership in October 2013,..”

Walsh claims the resort’s staff “should have known” he was “a habitual drunkard.”

This month’s Pellucid Perspective is providing a forum for the United States FootGolf Association (USFGA) and the American FootGolf League (AFGL) to provide a “brief overview of their [respective] philosophies and practices.”

The fact that two organizations already are staking out positions in this emerging activity suggests confidence by some that growth lies ahead.

And the two organizations do agree on one fundamental issue: FootGolf is one word. I suppose I need to correct the title of this post.

By: Rob Harris

The Hartford Courant reports that  the Back9 Golf Network claims to have temporarily” run out of money, requiring it to suspend operations. The article can be found here.

Meanwhile, as we recently discussed, Back9 remains in contested proceedings with its former CEO, Jamie Bosworth.

By: Rob Harris

Several months ago, we discussed the status of Vijay Singh’s suit against the PGA Tour, arising out of the Tour’s response to his use of deer antler spray.

At that time, the Tour had announced its intentions to obtain through discovery information about Vijay’s endorsement opportunities. While Vijay has alleged that the Tour caused his endorsement opportunities to dry up, his lawsuit opened up the possibility for other more pedestrian reasons to be revealed.

Fast forward, and the Tour is now complaining to the presiding judge that its attempt to obtain information was thwarted by the failure of the Singh legal team to produce relevant documents from a witness who provided testimony regarding Singh’s endorsements.

At the same time, Vijay appears to have turned up the heat,  for leitimate and/or strategic reasons, indicating his intention to take the depositions of up to nine additional Champions Tour players, having already deposed Mark Calcavecchia.

 

By: Rob Harris

Golf Solutions I, LLC–the company that makes Laser Link rangefinders–wanted to raise cash. To do so, it decided to sell its flagstick reflector business, and found an interested buyer, Prestige Flag Manufacturing Company, Inc.

The companies signed an agreement, in which Golf Solutions warranted that it had provided accurate data about the past sales of its reflectors. Presumably relying on this warranty, Prestige Flag agreed to purchase the business with payment to be made pursuant to a promissory note.

The promissory note contained a “no offset” clause, providing that Prestige Flag was obligated to make payments even if it asserted claims against Golf Solutions for breach of the agreement.

Flag sales did not meet Prestige Flag’s expectations. In the words of the court, “the flagstick business did not prosper after the sale.” Prestige Flag stopped making payments under the promissory note, accusing Golf Solutions of lying about past sales.

Golf Solutions brought suit, seeking a preliminary injunction directing payment by Prestige Flag, claiming that the allegations of fraud would not relieve Prestige Flag of its payment obligations pursuant to the “no offset” clause.

The court has entered an intermediate order, directing Prestige Flag to make payments into an escrow account, pending the court’s determination whether the “no offset” clause is enforceable if the agreement was induced by fraud.

Goldilocks Golf

By: Rob Harris

“This golf course is too noisy.”

“This golf course is too quiet”

So seem to be the 2015 pronouncements of Donald Trump with respect to two of his Florida golf holdings.

In early January, Trump filed suit against Palm Beach County, seeking a court order to change flight patterns based on the noise caused by the airplanes flying over his Mar-a-Lago Club, located just five minutes from his Trump International golf course.

Now, Trump has sued the city of Doral, Florida, claiming that his recently redeveloped Doral course is being unconstitutionally subjected to  municipal noise ordinances that preclude early morning mowing and landscape maintenance.

Somewhere, perhaps, there is a course that, as to noise, is “just right.”

From the Jackson County (Georgia) Police Blotter:

GOLF BALLS: On Feb. 9, Deputy Joseph Chastain was dispatched to a home near Jefferson, where a man said someone was hitting golf balls into his yard. The man explained that in October he returned from vacation and found numerous balls in the yard. On this day, he found more balls in the yard; however, he didn’t think any had hit his home. The deputy went to a home where someone saw a person hitting golf balls and the woman there identified a 7-year-old as hitting some off the porch. The deputy advised her to have anyone hitting golf balls to hit them away from the houses.

By: Rob Harris

The Washington Supreme Court issued a decision today that upholds Washington State University’s access to groundwater, including that used to irrigate its golf course.

The Associated Press via the Daily Astorian summarizes the decision as follows:

“The state Supreme Court has sided with Washington State University in a case that challenged its right to use declining stores of groundwater on a new golf course.

“The 6-3 decision Thursday, the justices ended a dispute over the Palouse Ridge Golf Club. The university opened the course in 2008, even though levels of the aquifer that supplies water to the entire region have dropped dramatically in the past century.

“Scott Cornelius, an area resident who has seen water levels fall in his own well, brought the lawsuit. He argued the water rights at issue were given to WSU for domestic or stock uses in the 1960s — and that they should have been revoked because the school didn’t use them. He challenged a decision to allow the university to re-label those rights to allow for municipal uses such as a golf course.”

The Washington Supreme Court’s majority and disssenting opinions can be accessed here.

Our previous discussion of this dispute can be found here.

By: Rob Harris

Last month, we suggested that the acrimonious dispute between the Back9 Network and its former CEO, Jamie Bosworth, was better suited to resolution in the privacy of arbitration rather than a public courtroom. We suggested at the time that the parties would have benefited from the inclusion of an arbitration provision in their underlying contractual documents.

Well, apparently, at least one agreement contained an arbitration provision. In responding to the complaint, Mr. Bosworth argued that the court was obligated to stay the litigation, in deference to arbitration.

Subsequently, Back9–while apparently denying that it had the legal requirement to arbitrate–agreed to do so nonetheless.

So, the parties are headed to the American Arbitration Association, where their dispute will be addressed without the glare of a public forum.

The question remains as to why Back9 started the proceeding with a court filing rather than an arbitration? Perhaps it determined that the initial publicity would be more harmful to Bosworth, and might lead to an early and favorable settlement.

With the company in apparently difficult financial straits, however, it appears that the company can only benefit from moving the dispute to a private forum.

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