Golfer off the hook in errant shot lawsuit
A DuPage County judge dismissed Friday a lawsuit against a Naperville golfer whose errant tee shot struck a woman gardening in a backyard adjacent to a West Chicago country club.
Lillian Demo, who owns a house along the 17th hole of St. Andrews Golf and Country Club, sued in 2007 for unspecified damages from Raymond Kinney, who hit the wayward shot Aug. 25, 2005. Demo claims she was struck in the head and still suffers migraine headaches.
According to the suit, Kinney was negligent in failing to aim and properly execute his swing.
In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge John Elsner said the contention that a golfer is negligent and liable when a shot veers off course "is simply not the law in Illinois."
Kinney's attorney, Michael Baggot, said the lawsuit "ignores the fact … that bad shots are inherent in the game of golf. As such, people who live near golf courses or tend their gardens, which are adjacent to a golf course, should be aware of the risk involved in a game of golf."
The dismissal order also noted that Kinney "was well-schooled in the mechanics of golf" and that "there is no evidence that he was facing other than straight down the fairway, his grip on the golf club was improper or that his swing was negligent."
St. Andrews was part of the original lawsuit, but the club last month reached a $30,000 out-of-court settlement, according to court files.
Kinney, who said he's a 17 handicap, happened to be on a golf course in Naples, Fla., on Friday when he was reached for comment.
He said his shot was errant and that he and others in his foursome had yelled "fore." But he said he didn't know how far off course the shot had gone until he walked down the fairway and the woman's husband starting yelling at him.
"When we approached the guy, who said his wife was bleeding, we saw 10 or more golf balls already in the backyard," Kinney said.
Demo could not be reached for comment.