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Personal Injury Suit Stemming From Golf Cart Accident Heading To Michigan Supreme Court

Ken Bertin and Doug Mann were playing golf at Farmington Hills Golf Club, when Mann accidently rammed his golf cart into Bertin near the 17th hole, knocking him to the ground. Bertin rolled to his right when the cart hit him, then rolled over his leg, causing further injury. Bertin brought a personal injury suit claiming that Mann demonstrated negligence and a failure to act with care or caution. Mann responded to the claim with two different defenses. He said that the accident was unforeseeable event and that Bertin contributed to the incident through his own negligent behavior.

Bertin brought a motion requesting the trial court hold the defendant “negligent as a matter of law based on deposition testimony,” which means that the further proceedings would focus solely on the calculation of damages. The defense replied, saying that the motion was not proper, but rather an untimely motion seeking a summary judgment that cites an inaccurate review standard. 

The defendant next claimed that the applicable standard in the matter was reckless misconduct based on the party’s mutual participation in activities of recreation when the incident happened. The court did not grant Bertin’s motion and stated that the issue was for a jury to decide. The trial court proceeded without specifying the standard of care in the case. Ultimately, the court agreed with the defense that the reckless standard did apply and a jury found Mann not guilty. Bertin brought an appeal which challenged the standard of care used.

Applicable Standard of Care

The appeals court decided that the case should have been applied with a standard of ordinary negligence, thus vacating the verdict, and sent the case back to the trial court. The defense sought to challenge the appellate court decision and the state’s Supreme Court confirmed that they will next hear the case. The question is whether the standard of ordinary negligence or the higher standard of reckless misconduct is applicable in the matter. Since then, the Negligence Section of the Michigan Bar Association was invited to file impartial briefs on the matter.

Maryland Golf Cart Laws

Crisfield is Maryland’s southernmost city with an estimated population of 2,700. Somers Cove Marina, a popular port in Crisfield, is used to access to the Chesapeake Bay through the Tangier Sound. The marina seeks to implement a golf cart rental business.  The marina is used predominately for sailing, fishing, crabbing and other recreational purposes. The city has no objection to allowing golf carts on the roads; however, they have been unable to secure liability insurance. Despite the okay from the city council, state law prohibits golf carts on state roads. The city is in the process of trying to obtain a legislative change. Some residents have safety concerns, yet the city’s leadership says that law enforcement is prepared to enforce the laws.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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