Personal Injury

Golfer Swarmed by Yellow Jackets has Premises Liability Lawsuit Revived

512px Face of a Southern Yellowjacket Queen Vespula squamosa 281x210 Golfer Swarmed by Yellow Jackets has Premises Liability Lawsuit RevivedA California appeals court has reinstated a premises liability lawsuit against a California golf club brought by a woman who nearly died after being swarmed by yellow jackets on the green.

Plaintiff Carolyn Staat was taking golf lessons at the Vintner’s Golf Club in Yountville, California in July 2013 when a swarm of yellow jackets attacked her and her instructor, according to Business Insurance. The swarm continued to pursue and sting Ms. Staat, who had to run about 150 yards before the attack ceased, the premises liability lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit, which also accuses the golf club of general negligence, says that the yellow jackets stung Ms. Staats more than 50 times. She began to lose consciousness on the course and came “within fifteen seconds of dying” when paramedics from a nearby fire station stabilized her with a shot of epinephrine.

The paramedics rushed Ms. Staats to the hospital, where she was admitted to the intensive care unit. According to Business Insurance, the yellow jackets left Ms. Staats with redness, welts, and swelling over her body. She was forced to miss more than five weeks of work,

“The attack left her highly allergic to yellow jacket stings and she must now be given three injections per month and carry multiple epinephrine pens,” Business Insurance reported, citing the Aug. 1 ruling by the California Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Ms. Staats filed the lawsuit in a Napa, California, state court, which granted the golf club summary judgment and dismissed the case. A three-judge panel at the California Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the lower court’s ruling, maintaining that the golf club is liable for the safety of its patrons.

“Those who own or occupy property have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonable safe condition,” said the ruling.

“The evidence here supports the conclusion that it was reasonably foreseeable that yellow jackets in an underground nest on the premises would form a swarm and attack a nearby golfer,” the ruling said, taking into account an entomologist’s declaration that yellow jackets are prevalent in the area.

The appeals court’s ruling sends Ms. Staat’s lawsuit back to trial court, which should sort out the premises liability issues and determine whether any failures by the golf club operators led to Ms. Staat’s injuries, Business Insurance reported.

“We hold only that golf course operators are not exempted from exercising reasonable care to protect their patrons against the foreseeable risk posed by yellow Jackson yellow jackets on their premises,” said the ruling, in remanding the case for further proceedings.