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Operation of City golf course enjoys immunity from negligence

The City of Pontiac recently persuaded the Appeals Court to uphold the dismissal of a negligent design case brought against its municipal golf course by a man who was injured by another golfer's struck ball.  The injured man's attorneys claimed that the golf course should not enjoy immunity because the operation of the course was a proprietary function and not a governmental function.

The parties interpreted the City's financial data differently, with the golfer arguing it showed a profit, and the City arguing that when accounting for the bonds associated with the golf/residential development, the course actually operates at a loss and drains general revenue dollars.  The Court held that the City was entitled to a judgment of immunity as a matter of law, regardless of the actual profitability of the course, because its operation did not demonstrate a pecuniary motive and its revenues were essentially "self-sustaining".  The case is Transou v. City of Pontiac.

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