Mass. SJC: $3.5 Million Payday for Torrent of Errant Golf Balls Not a Fore-Gone Conclusion
A Kingston couple was dealt a significant blow days before Christmas when the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) set aside a jury verdict awarding them $3.5 million in damages for errant golf balls hitting their property. In Tenczar v. Indian Pond Country Club, Inc. (pdf), the SJC ruled that the trial judge erred in his jury instructions concerning easements applicable to the property. The plaintiffs’ home was subject to an easement providing for the “reasonable and efficient operation” of a golf course in the “customary and usual manner,” but the trial judge didn’t present to the jury the question of whether the golf course’s operation met that standard. So the question remains, how many errant shots on the 15th hole at the Indian Pond Country Club are reasonable?
The Kingston Planning Board endorsed a subdivision plan in the fall of 1998 for a residential development surrounding a golf course. The subdivision developer, Indian Pond, recorded a declaration of covenants and restrictions shortly