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Golf Pro Qualifies as Expert Witness on Duty of Care of Golfers
Description South Dakota high court held that a golf pro, who taught golf, was qualified to serve as an expert witness concerning the duty of care of golfers to watch out for each other when swinging their clubs. He could not comment on negligence, but could give an opinion as to whether the matter was an accident or showed carelessness.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Evidence; Expert Witness
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Three minors were playing golf together. On the sixth hole, Schild backed away from his ball, which was teed-up to drive, to take a practice swing. He did not look behind him and hit Nickles, who was looking in another direction. Nickles suffered a fractured skull and permanently damaged eye. He sued Schild. At trial, Schild called Boldus, a golf pro, who had frequently given lessons to minors, as an expert witness. He gave the opinion that Schild did not violate a duty of care and that the matter was an accident. The jury found for Schild. Nickles appealed, contending that Boldus should not have been able to give the testimony he did.
Decision Affirmed. "An expert is not limited to testifying only upon those areas in which he or she has received formal training, Rather, when giving an opinion, an expert is allowed to draw upon all the knowledge, skill, or experience that he or she has accumulated. Moreover, while Boldus may not have had any formal classroom 'training' in the applicable liability standards, it is clear Boldus was no novice at the game of golf." He was a qualified expert witness and could given an opinion as to what happened. He did not testify as to the ultimate issue of negligence; that was left for the jury to determine.
Citation Nickles v. Schild, 617 N.W.2d 659 (Sup. Ct., S.D., 2000)

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