Wellsfry et al v. Ocean Colony Partners, LLC

Guy Stilson, David Streza, and Jon Varnica of Vogl Meredith Burke & Streza prevailed on a motion for summary judgment following a mediation where plaintiffs, a husband and wife, rejected defense settlement overtures.  The incident occurred at the Half Moon Bay Golf Links.  The plaintiff, Walter Wellsfry, was seriously injured on July 28, 2018 when he tripped over tree roots left in the area of the tee box after removal of several large trees.

Plaintiff had spine surgery following the incident and claimed significant lost earnings stemming from his employment as a financial planner.  Leslie Bates-Wellsfry, the plaintiff’s wife, sought significant non-economic damages for loss of consortium arising from her husband’s injuries.  Defendant argued that the plaintiff’s claims, while significant, were barred by the doctrine of primary assumption of risk.  Specifically, the defendant argued that tree roots were a naturally occurring condition that golfers should expect to encounter when engaged in the sport of golf.  In other words, the risk of encountering tree roots was a risk inherent in the sport of golf.

A motion for summary judgment authored by Guy Stilson was filed on this theory.  Defendant asked the Court to find that the doctrine applied to bar the plaintiffs’ claims.  The San Mateo Superior Court agreed and granted the motion for summary judgment.  Plaintiffs timely appealed the ruling.

Following oral argument, on April 27, 2023, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District issued a published opinion in Walter Wellsfry et al v. Ocean Colony Partners, LLC (A165175).  The Court of Appeal affirmed the granting of the motion for summary judgment and held that the doctrine of primary assumption of risk applied thereby precluding the plaintiffs’ claims.  The Court of Appeal found that the defendant had no duty to protect the plaintiff against risks inherent in the sport of golf.

The defendant beat a CCP 998 offer to compromise for $15,000.  Plaintiffs are responsible for the defendant’s costs.

Stephen Gordon v. Northern California Golf Association

Not long after the Wellsry case, on August 18, 2023, Guy Stilson and David Streza of Vogl Meredith Burke & Streza prevailed on another lawsuit arising out of a personal injury which arose on a golf course.

Stephen Gordon was injured on June 4, 2020 while golfing at the Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore, CA.  Mr. Gordon had rented a golf board when he was directed to drive down a steep and dangerous path by golf course personnel, losing control of his golf board and sustaining a serious injury to his lower extremity as a result.  Mr. Gordon underwent surgery to his lower extremity and alleged both medical specials and loss of earnings as a result.  In addition, Mr. Gordon alleged significant residual injury to the extremity despite the surgery.

Defendant, in a motion for summary judgment authored by Guy Stilson, argued that Mr. Gordon’s claims were barred by the primary assumption of risk, both implied because the plaintiff was riding a golf board, and express because the plaintiff had signed a waiver/release before engaging in the activity.