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Wayward golf club swing lands country club worker in lawsuit

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A country club employee whose left testicle was surgically removed after the club’s general manager struck him in the groin with a golf club is entitled to sue for damages beyond workers compensation benefits, a New York appeals court ruled.

William Montgomery, a locker-room attendant, was observing the assembly of golf clubs in the Glen Falls Country Club pro shop in Queensbury, New York, when the club’s general manager, Richard Hackenburg, entered. Mr. Montgomery said Mr. Hackenburg picked up a golf club shaft and struck him in the testicle, according to the ruling handed down by the New York Supreme Court appellate division on Thursday.

Mr. Montgomery said he stepped back in pain while Mr. Hackenburg laughed and left the room following the incident. Mr. Hackenburg said the incident was accidental and contact was minimal, court records show.

Mr. Montgomery and his wife sued Mr. Hackenburg, seeking damages in addition to the workers comp benefits he received related to the injury. Mr. Hackenburg sought to have the complaint dismissed, saying workers comp was Mr. Montgomery’s exclusive remedy.

A four-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously upheld the Supreme Court’s decision to deny Mr. Hackenburg’s motion to dismiss. The panel considered whether Mr. Hackenburg was acting within the scope of his employment or engaged in negligent or reckless behavior, court documents show.

“The differing versions of the event presented by the parties, as well as the two club employees who supported plaintiff’s version, raise genuine questions of fact as to whether the defendant intended to strike the plaintiff and did so in an excessive manner given the sensitive area of impact,” the panel wrote. “Although defendant was not directly disciplined by the club and resigned to take a new position a few months after the incident, a question of fact also remains as to whether the club condoned defendant's actions. As such, we conclude that Supreme Court properly determined that questions of fact existed as to whether defendant acted in a ‘grossly negligent and/or reckless’ manner when he swung the golf club shaft and struck plaintiff, as alleged in the complaint.”