Shin (Johnny) v. Ahn (Jack)



Date: August 30, 2007

Brief Summary of the facts of the case – Plaintiff Johnny Shin, a golfer, was getting a bottle of water out of his golf bag and was also checking messages on his cell phone while Defendant Jack Ahn was teeing off during a golf game. The Plaintiff was aware that he was in front of the tee box and that the Defendant was getting ready to tee off. He also was aware that he should be standing behind the player anytime a player was about to tee off. The Defendant hit his golf ball, which hit the Plaintiff in the temple causing injury.

Disposition of the case – In a previous, well-known Supreme Court of California decision, the court left open the issue of whether or not the primary assumption of risk doctrine was applicable or not to noncontact sports, such as golf in this case. That question was answered in this case, as the court concluded that the primary assumption of risk doctrine did apply to golf and that being hit by a golf ball that was hit carelessly by another player is an inherent risk when participating in the sport. Golfers do have a limited duty of care toward other golfers. However, this would only be breached if a golfer intentionally injures another participant or if their conduct is “so reckless as to be totally outside the range of ordinary activity involved in sport.” The opinion that was filed was that the judgment of the Court of Appeal was affirmed in full with directions. The case was remanded with directions that Litigation should continue under the primary assumption of risk doctrine.

Significance of the case for a manager – Sports participants in non-contact sports may assume just as much risk as participants in contact sports.


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