Fore! Was the Swing Foreseeable? (NY)
In Carpaneto v. Middle Bay Golf Club, the Appellate Division, Second Department addressed whether the defendant, Middle Bay Golf Club, satisfied its duty of supervision over the children it was charged with training.
Plaintiff, seven years old, participated in Junior Golf Day at the defendant’s club. Plaintiff was part of a group of children at the club’s chipping station where there were two instructors assigned – one oversaw the children hitting the ball, the other was 30 yards away. After each child would practice chipping the ball, they would then go to another line away from the green. Plaintiff’s father testified that as plaintiff was running behind another child going from the chipping station to the other line, the other child swung his club and struck plaintiff in the face. Defendant’s summary judgment motion was granted and plaintiff appealed.
The Appellate Division affirmed the decision, stating: “An entity to whom the custody of a child is entrusted has a duty to adequately supervise children in its charge and may be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision.” The Court held that the defendant golf club submitted evidence proving that they adequately supervised the plaintiff and that “….the accident occurred abruptly, and in so short a span of time that even the most intense supervision could not have prevented it, any lack of supervision is not the proximate cause of the injury….” As such, the defendants were granted summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint.
This decision serves as a reminder that when supervising children that you must have a strict system in place, as the key to successfully dismissing a complaint lays with the foreseeability of the incident. The stricter the supervision, the more likely a Court will hold that an entity adequately foresaw all possible events and thus adequately supervised the children in its charge.
Thanks to Corey Morgenstern for his contribution to this post. Please email Georgia Coats with any questions.