ICLEF Law Tips: Tort Law

Our ‘Law Tip’ this week is drawn from Tort Law Update – Plaintiff’s Perspective: Roy T. Tabor, Tabor Law Firm, LLP, Indianapolis,IN, presented as a portion of the 2011 Year In Review

A section of Mr. Tabor’s Tort Law update in December 2011 was entitled “Supreme Court Sets New Standard for Sport Injury Cases.” Among other relevant cases cited was Pfenning v. Lineman, 947 N.E.2d  392 (Ind.), decided May 18, 2011.  Following is the background provided on that case:

Plaintiff, a minor girl struck by a golf ball at a golf outing, appealed summary judgment granted by the Superior Court of Grant County, Indiana, in favor of defendants, the golfer who hit the ball, the country club at which the event was held, the tavern that promoted the event, and her grandfather, who took her to the event.  The Court of Appeals affirmed, and found there was no duty of care to protect other participants from the inherent risks of the sport of golf.  The rule regarding sports participants was well discussed by the Court of Appeals over the years, but this was the first time the Indiana Supreme Court had addressed the issue.  The Court rejected the concept that a participant in a sporting event owes no duty of care to protect others from inherent risks of the sport, but adopted instead the view that summary judgment is proper when the conduct of a sports participant is within the range of ordinary behavior of participants in the sport and therefore is reasonable as a matter of law.

Applying this new standard, the Indiana Supreme Court held that summary judgment was properly granted in favor of the golfer because his conduct as a sports participant was within the range of ordinary behavior of participants in the sport and was therefore reasonable as a matter of law.  Further, summary judgment was properly granted in favor of the country club because plaintiff failed to establish two elements necessary to a premise liability claim; specifically, there was no showing that the country club should have reasonably expected that invitees would fail to discover or realize the danger of wayward golf drives and no showing that the risk of being struck by an errant golf ball involved an unreasonable risk of harm.  However, the Supreme Court reversed summary judgment in favor of the remaining defendants because the facts did not preclude the existence of a duty on the grandfather to exercise reasonable care in the supervision of his granddaughter and because an issue of fact remained regarding whether equipment provided by the tavern was sufficient to provide shelter to observers.

The additional cases pointed out by Mr. Tabor in relation to this subject are: Welch v. Young, 950 N.E.2d 1283 (Ind. Ct. App.), decided August 4, 2011 and Haire v. Parker, 2011 Ind. App. LEXIS 1845, 2011 WL 5057722 (Ind. Ct. App.), October 25, 2011.


ICLEF provides these Law Tips to assist Indiana lawyers in their investigation and study of current legal issues. The manual for the 2011 Year In Review seminar that includes the complete Tort Law Case Update as well as current legal developments in other areas is available by calling ICLEF at 317.637.9102. To download the electronic document or “e-pub” directly to your computer Click Here.

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