Bertin v. Mann (Opinion on Application)Annotate this Case
Kenneth Bertin brought an action against Douglas Mann alleging that Mann was negligent in operating a golf cart when he hit Bertin with the cart while the parties were playing a round of golf. The parties offered differing accounts of how the accident occurred. Bertin alleged that he had parked the cart and begun walking to his ball when he was suddenly struck by the cart driven by Mann, at which point Bertin fell to the ground and was hit a second time with the cart. Mann alleged that when he began accelerating, Bertin stepped in front of the cart and was hit. At issue in this case was whether getting hit by a golf cart is an inherent risk of golfing. If so, then Mann owed a duty only to refrain from reckless misconduct, but could not be held liable for negligent conduct. If not, then Mann would be held to the negligence standard of conduct. "The question boils down to how we determine which risks in a recreational activity are inherent, such that the reckless standard of conduct applies." The Court of Appeals answered this question by meditating upon golf’s essence and discerning that golf carts are not within the essence of the sport. The Michigan Supreme Court declined to endorse this philosophical mode of analysis. Instead, the Court held when determining whether a risk is inherent in a recreational activity for purposes of establishing the relevant standard of conduct, the fact-finder should ask whether the risk was reasonably foreseeable. Because the courts below did not apply this test, the Court reversed the appellate court's judgment and remanded the case to the trial court for consideration of this issue.