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Golfer Gets Shot After His Golf Ball Breaks a Window

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on September 11, 2012 6:47 AM

A pair of golfers apparently teed off the wrong man after an errant golf ball triggered a shooting, police say.

The stray golf ball smashed the window of a home overlooking the Lakeridge Golf Course in Reno, Nev., Reuters reports. In retaliation, the home's owner grabbed a shotgun and confronted the golfers.

Then he opened fire.

Homeowner Jeff Fleming, 53, shot one of the golfers in the legs and arm. After the golf ball shooting, police evacuated the golf course and surrounded Fleming's house.

Fleming was arrested on suspicion of battery and assault with a deadly weapon. He posted bail and was released.

While it's not entirely clear what made Fleming mad enough to pull the trigger, he may have had reason to be upset over his broken window. In general, a person who hits a golf ball through another person's window can be held liable for damages, but that's not always the case when a home is located near a golf course.

Strange as it may seem, parties other than the clumsy golfer could potentially be forced to pay. Other responsible parties may include:

  • The golf course owner. Depending on the circumstances, a homeowner may be able to argue that a golf club's owner failed to take reasonable steps -- like installing nets, for example -- to protect neighboring properties from errant golf balls. Some developments around golf courses require home buyers to waive the golf course from liability; however, a few states like Florida, New York, and California prohibit such waivers, according to Golf magazine.

  • The homeowner. Depending on the laws of your state, it may be possible to argue that the homeowner assumed the risk of broken windows when he bought a home located next to an established golf course. If a homeowner has assumed the risk of damage, a court may block his attempts to get others to pay.

  • The homeowner's insurance company. Insurance typically covers damage to a home from errant golf balls, as well as injuries. The deductible is usually about $250 to $500 per claim, Golf magazine reports.

As for the errant golf ball shooting, the golfer who hit the ball didn't even realize he'd broken a window, and was searching for the ball when Jeff Fleming shot him, police told the Associated Press. Fleming is set to appear in court in October.

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