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Maverick
Maverick, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  20 years of proefessional experience
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The Background: 1) A customer went golfing at a golf course.

Customer Question

The Background:
1) A customer went golfing at a golf course.
2) Customer also rented a golf cart from the course.
3) Customer signed paperwork saying that the customer is responsible for the golf cart including damage.
4) While golfing, the customer parked the golf cart on an incline hill.
5) There was a loud "pop" (breaks released) and the golf cart rolled into the lake below.
6) The golf course wants damages of $3,500 for the golf cart because the waiver indicated the customer is responsible for the cart.
7) The customer's argument is that it was the malfunction of the break release since he wasn't anywhere near the golf cart when it 'popped' and rolled into the lake.
8) They went to trial and the judge gave 30 days for the customer to find case law supporting the argument that it is unreasonable for the customer to be responsible for this kind of incident.
What cases are there that would be a good defense for case law in this particular scenario?
Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Attorney 1 replied 1 year ago.

Hello, and welcome! I am a licensed attorney and happy to assist. I agree with your position, and so does the law in every jurisdiction in the country. Please let me know your state so I can provide you with a jurisdiction-specific case.

Best,
Attorney 1

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi, thank you. We are in Florida

Expert:  Attorney 1 replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the info. I will do the research and post relevant case law here shortly.

Expert:  Attorney 1 replied 1 year ago.

I did some intensive research, but found nothing on point. This can happen when an issue is of such common knowledge that it never makes it to the appellate level, which is what it takes for a written opinion (i.e., case law). So, while it is obvious that you are not responsible for conditions of the golf cart about which you could not have known and which were under the plaintiff’s exclusive control, I found no case law relieving you of responsibility in the face of a contract in which broad liability is assumed. The good news is that there is likewise nothing indicating that the contract you signed is so inclusive as to relieve the golf course of liability for its own negligence in maintaining or servicing the cart, which would be absurd. I'm sorry nothing further could be found.

Please let me know if you would like me to opt out of this question to open it for other attorneys to research for you. Good luck.

Best,
Attorney 1

Expert:  Attorney 1 replied 1 year ago.

It looks like you posted to our discussion page, but nothing came through to me. If you did send a message, please repost so it so I can reply.

Thank you.

Best,

Attorney 1

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Attorney 1,

Thanks for doing the initial research. I didn't actually post the question on the discussion forum, but the question was left untouched for a day or so, so I was getting emails from Justanswer.com saying they were going to reach out to attorneys to try to get someone on this question.

I would really like to know if there is ANYTHING supporting the negligence of the golf course to absolve the customer prior to signing responsibility of the golf cart.

As long as there is no penalty to you, do you mind seeing if someone else can find something? Thank you

Expert:  Attorney 1 replied 1 year ago.

I'll opt out for you. Good luck!

Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.

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ANSWER:

8) They went to trial and the judge gave 30 days for the customer to find case law supporting the argument that it is unreasonable for the customer to be responsible for this kind of incident.

This appears to be a trick question since the law would require the rental company to prove the elements of negligence to prevail on a suit against the customer. In other words the plaintiff has the burden of proof to prove its negligence claim against the defendant. Further, the rental company would most likely need to offer expert witness testimony from a mechanic that inspected the golf cart and show that there was no brake malfunction but that the customer was negligent by not pulling the brake all the way, for example. The customer could offer expert witness testimony to counter this also: say, for example, that the customer hired a mechanic to examine the golf cart after the incident and found that the brake cable was woren and snapped due to no fault of the customer.

Case law:

"The elements of negligence are: (1) a duty to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant’s breach of that duty; (3) injury to the plaintiff arising from the defendant’s breach; and (4) damage caused by the injury to the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. Westchester Exxon v. Valdes, 524 So. 2d 452, 454 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988). As the plaintiff, Delgado bears the burden of proof at trial, and for Delgado to prevail, “it must be shown that the owner negligently failed where the law, custom, or innate danger requires diligence.” See Heps v. Burdine’s, Inc., 69 So. 2d 340, 341-42 (Fla. 1954).

Also, the other way to defend this case is that the rental company cannot limit its liability for the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for particualr purpose unless the contract terms comply with this law. In other words the rental company had a duty to provide you with a cart that did not have a defective brake system and and they could not pawn liability for that defect off on you without the contract complying with the "as is" provisions of this law.

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What cases are there that would be a good defense for case law in this particular scenario?

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