Attorney's golf accident lawsuit dismissed

By Chris Dickerson and Kyla Asbury | May 15, 2015

CHARLESTON – A lawsuit against Sugarwood Golf Club after an attorney alleged he was injured while golfing has been dismissed.

Circuit Judge James Stucky presided over the case and granted Sugarwood's motion to dismiss, according to the May 5 order.

The plaintiff, Victor Navy, failed to state a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, according to the order.

The owner or the possessor of the premises is not an insurer of the safety of every person present on the premises, the order states.

"If the owner or possessor is not guilty of negligence or willful or wanton misconduct and no nuisance exists, then he or she is not liable for injuries sustained by a person on the premise," the order states.

Sugarwood could not have foreseen that Bill L. Abbott, a member of the plaintiff's foursome, would "knowingly" hot a golf ball into a group of people – an act the plaintiff characterizes as "extreme," "reckless" and "grossly negligent."

The plaintiff's premises liability claim also makes no allegations that a dangerous or defective condition existed on the premises, according to the order.

In March, Abbott settled the claims against him. In April, a letter was filed stating that because he had settled, he would not be in attendance at the hearing on Sugarwood's motion to dismiss.

Navy filed his lawsuit Aug. 15 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Abbott and Sugarwood Golf Club after he was injured while playing golf.

Navy, who has a law office in Barboursville, was playing golf in a foursome at Sugarwood in Wayne County on Aug. 18, 2012, with Abbott and two others. The foursome was on the 10th hole when the incident occurred.

"Three of the four golfers in the foursome had reached the green ... Abbott being the lone member of the foursome who had not yet reached the green," the complaint stated. "Abbott was approximately 50 yards off the green ... while the other three golfers in the foursome were on the putting surface."

Abbott instructed the other three golfers in the foursome to "putt out" which the other three golfers understood to mean finish playing the hole, according to the suit.

Navy claimed he putted the ball in and bent over to retrieve his ball from the cup.

Navy "took two steps from the hole when another member of the foursome, who was standing beside plaintiff ... shouted ... 'watch out!'"

Navy claimed he then was struck in the left eye by the ball Abbott had hit. He sustained severe and permanent injuries and has suffered severe emotional distress.

Abbott negligently hit his golf ball and knew or should have known of the possible danger, according to the suit.

Navy claimed Abbott's conduct of hitting the ball while others were on the green "was reckless and an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct in context to the situation and constitutes gross negligence."

Sugarwood failed to warn the plaintiff of the dangers presented by patronizing the golf course and failed to warn and advise players as to the rules and regulations regarding players conduct and etiquette while playing at the golf course.

Navy was seeking compensatory damages for pain, suffering, sorrow, mental anguish, solace, annoyance, aggravation, inconvenience, loss of usual pursuits, medical care, treatment, hospitalization, lost wages as well as past and future medical expenses; and punitive damages. He was representing himself.

Sugarwood was represented by Anders W. Lindberg of Steptoe & Johnson.

Abbott was represented by James D. Lamp of Lamp Bartram Levy Trautwein & Perry PLLC.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1475

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