Legal Issues Arise When Spectator’s Are Injured at Olympic Club during US Open

This past weekend, the US Open was held at the Olympic Club, a private athletic club located in San Francisco and Daly City.  Many spectators who attended the event attempted to witness the popular golf event from the 8th hole at the Olympic Club Lake Course. According to John Abendroth, a well-known local golf pro and vice chair of the U.S. Open championship the 8th hole location offers “a cool sight line with the flagstick and the palm tree and the clubhouse in the background.” However, despite the great views of the golf course and tournament, the dry slick hill behind the 8th hole was troublesome for several spectators who slipped and fell while walking on the course.

As described in a recent article by the San Francisco Chronicle, this weekend’s championship was marred by some serious injuries. The Chronicle stated:

Around midday Saturday, a paramedic working the side of the hill was tending to an older woman who was flat on her back with an ankle injury. “They need to do something about this,” the paramedic said, asking to remain anonymous for job reasons. “We’ve had at least 10 serious injuries today. Broken ankles, sprained shoulders, fractures. It’s the dry, loose grass.”

Premises Liability Issues

Let’s talk about some of the liability issues involving injuries at the Olympic Club over the weekend.

The Slope

Here, ticket holders were invited to sit on the grassy slope to watch the hill, so question is whether the Olympic Club took reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others. This would be a question for the jury.


For obvious reasons, if a spectator was drinking and fell while at the 8th hole, that would pose a significant threat to the possibility of having a successful claim. In that particular case, the defendant could assert that the plaintiff contributed to their injuries by drinking alcohol.

Ticket Waiver

When a spectator purchases a ticket, they agree to a ticket license agreement which essentially states that the ticket holder understands all risks associated with their attendance at the US Open and agrees to hold harmless the Olympic Club and other related entities from any and all claims for personal injury which result from the ticket holder’s attendance at the Championship.  You can read the entire waiver HERE.

The court would have to determine whether the ticket is a legally enforceable contract. Usually waiver agreements are read and signed by the individual participating in the certain event (i.e. attending a gym class, parasailing, skiing, canoeing or other types of risky sports). The courts have generally enforced these agreements and allowed members of the general public to waive their rights of a lawsuit against people holding the event. In the absence of mutual assent, the courts generally do not uphold waivers of this type.

This article should not be considered legal advice. It is commentary that is focused on a relevant and interesting personal injury event that occurred at this weekend’s US Open. Thanks for reading Slice of Appel PI today! We hope you continue to read and share it with others.

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