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Jay Busbee

Today in golf litigation: hit by own ball, bitten by a gator

Jay Busbee
Devil Ball Golf

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Surprising but true: When you get people out swinging sticks and hitting balls at high speeds in the middle of nature, sometimes accidents happen. And this being America, lawsuits follow. Here, we spotlight a couple of recent vintage.

First, NBC's Off The Bench (via Pro Golf Talk) brings us the horrifying story of a golfer who (gulp) got his arm ripped off by an alligator. Yeah, that's as bad as it gets.

Now, since the victim, one James Wiencek, can't sue the alligator, he's suing Fripp Island Resort and its affiliates for failing to take "reasonable action" to protect golfers from this insane man-eating alligator. And why would such protection be necessary? We'll let the Courthouse News Service take it from here:

On the 11th hole, Wiencek hit his ball near, but not into, a big deep pond, surrounded by a steep bank covered by long grass. The pond itself was dark and brackish, at no time allowing a hint of what lay beneath the surface.

“When the plaintiff reached his right arm towards the ball, without warning, a large, 10-foot long alligator spring from the brackish and dark water and attacked the plaintiff, biting and holding plaintiff’s right arm,” the complaint states.

“The alligator then pulled Plaintiff into the water and attempted to initiate a roll, pulling plaintiff underwater. Plaintiff struggled with the alligator, and the alligator tore plaintiff’s right arm off in a violent and vicious manner above the elbow.

Eeeeagh. Oh, and it gets worse. There's a photo of the man's arm getting removed from the gator's belly. It's right here, but fair warning -- it's a photo of a severed arm being pulled out of a gator's stomach. Don't click during lunch.

In less gruesome, but no less unfortunate, news, we have the story of Alex Good, an Oregon teenager who hit himself in the face with his own ball, and is now suing the golf course, where it took place, for $3 million. (Visor tip: Weed Against Speed.) Stop laughing! This one's actually pretty understandable.

Good, a high school golfer, was practicing at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon. As it was raining, the staff put up an awning over the driving range. Good's shot ricocheted off a metal bar holding up the awning and hit him in the face, causing severe damage to his eye.

Good's lawyer claims that the course was negligent in putting out the awning; other attorneys who have commented on the case have said Good was the one who was negligent in not paying attention to his surroundings. A settlement is possible.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we turn these cases over to you. Verdicts?

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