Man found liable for 'Happy Gilmore' golf swing

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Man found liable for 'Happy Gilmore' golf swing

Mon Nov 23, 2009 @ 11:44AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

MV5BMTU1MDA1Mzg2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODUwMTg2._V1._SX475_SY375_ In the 1996 film "Happy Gilmore," Adam Sandler showcases an unorthodox golf swing to win the Tour Championship and save his grandmother's home from IRS debt.

Good thing Happy didn't live in the real world.

A judge in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, Canada, has just ruled that the "Happy Gilmore shot" breaches a duty of care on the golf course. 

In the case, the plaintiff sued after the defendant tried to impress his golfing buddies during a bachelor party outing that included beer, tequila, and marijuana. On the 16th hole, under the influence, Travis Hayter whipped out his "Happy Gilmore shot," which the court defined in 2008 as "running from five to ten feet behind the ball and hitting it on the run."

The ball leapt up and struck the plaintiff in the wrist, then in the chest, causing permanent damage to the radial nerve. The plaintiff no longer was able to return to his former work as a woodsman on account of the incident.

"The defendant's behavior was not among the 'natural risks' of golfing to which the plaintiff can be said to have consented," ruled Judge Arthur J. LeBlanc.

Others have have tried the "Happy Gilmore shot," including pro Padraig Harrington, who noted in a Sports Science episode that "it's perfectly legal to use the Happy Gilmore swing on the golf course."

Maybe. Of course, as we see by this Nova Scotia case, there's some civil liability to consider. Universal Pictures released the film and has not issued any warning against trying the swing. Stand back.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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