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155266 - Kenneth Bertin v Douglas Mann

Kenneth Bertin,
 
Mark R. Bendure
 
Plaintiff-Appellee,
 
v
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
 
 
(Oakland – Anderson, M.)
 
Douglas Mann,
 
Sidney A. Klinger
 
Defendant-Appellant.
 

Summary

Plaintiff Kenneth Bertin and defendant Douglas Mann were paired as partners for a game of golf against two other golfers at the Farmington Hills Golf Club.  They used a golf cart to get around the course.  On the 17th hole, defendant hit his ball onto the putting green just a few feet from the hole.  Plaintiff hit his ball to the right of the green.  Plaintiff drove the cart to where his ball was located.  He hit the ball too hard and it went over the green to the other side of the hole.  As he walked toward his ball, defendant drove the cart toward the other side of the green.  Plaintiff claims that defendant struck him from behind causing him to fall to the ground and then drove over his leg, resulting in severe injuries.  Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against defendant.  


The key legal question presented is whether plaintiff must prove that defendant acted with “reckless misconduct” or the lower standard of ordinary negligence.  The trial court applied the holding in Ritchie-Gamester v City of Berkley, 461 Mich 73, 87-89 (1999), where this Court held that the standard of care applicable to the risks inherent in recreational activity is “reckless misconduct,” rather than “ordinary negligence.”  The jury was instructed regarding the higher standard and ruled in favor of defendant.  Plaintiff appealed.  


The Court of Appeals, in a published opinion, reversed and ordered a new trial.  The appeals panel held that the ordinary negligence standard applied because the use of a golf cart is not an inherent part of the sport of golf.  


Defendant now seeks leave to appeal to this Court, arguing that an injury resulting from the operation of a golf cart on a golf course during a game of golf is a regular part of the recreational activity of playing golf, and, therefore, is governed by the recreational activity standard in Ritchie-Gamester.  This Court has directed oral argument on defendant’s application for leave to appeal to address whether the reckless misconduct or ordinary negligence standard applies to an injury resulting from the operation of a golf cart while playing golf recreationally.