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Golf Cart Accident Lawsuit Involving New Hampshire Traumatic Brain Injury Victim Goes To Trial

Six years after a fall from a golf cart left Roderick Jenks with brain damage, he is suing manufacturer Textron for products liability. Jenks, now 53, had been riding on the back of the cart that was being operated by a New Hampshire Motor Speedway employee when he fell out and struck his head on the pavement. At the time, he was volunteering for charity.
Jenks suffered a traumatic brain injury that was so serious that doctors had to take off part of his skull and remove a portion of his left frontal lobe. He then was confined to hospitals and rehabilitation facilities for a year. Now, according to his legal team, he continues to need assistance with basic tasks.
Jenks’ wife, Melissa, filed a golf cart injury lawsuit on his behalf against the speedway, its employee Breann Thompson, and Textron. It was Textron subsidiary E-Z-GO that constructed the golf cart that was involved in Jenk’s fall accident. Melissa also filed a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages for loss of consortium. In May, the Jenkses settled with New Hampshire Motor Speedway over the negligence allegations (including failure to post golf cart speed limits and not properly training its drivers) for an undisclosed amount.
Now, his New Hampshire products liability lawsuit against Textron is underway. The plaintiff contends that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn customers that serious injury or death could result if riders sat or stood in the back of the E-Z-GO golf cart.
Prior to Jenks’s accident, another man, John Hall, had also fallen off the back of an E-Z-GO golf cart but he died of his injuries. Although the 67-year-old family did not sue the manufacturer, they asked that Textron post a warning label on the rear of its golf carts. The manufacturer, however, only chose to include such warnings on its newer models.
Meantime, Textron’s legal team is blaming the golf cart operator’s carelessness for Jenks’ injuries. Thompson was reportedly involved in a game of “chicken” and speeding when the cart swerved and Jenks fell off. The manufacturer contends that either the speedway didn’t properly train her or she disregarded that training. The defense is arguing that operator carelessness/ inexperience, and not sitting in the back of the golf court, was the actual hazard.
With golf carts now used at golf courses, airports, gated communities, schools, and businesses, and as alternative road vehicles, it is important that these vehicles can be safely used for these different purposes and on the various terrains. According to the Research Institute at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, there were more than 13,400 golf cart accidents in 2006. Meantime, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting about five golf cart deaths every year.
It is important that a manufacturer ensures that each golf cart is designed and made to be as safe as possible while providing proper instructions on operating and riding one and warning of any possible dangers to riders. Golf carts are not made with standard automobile safety features and they can be a safety hazard especially when operated by someone that lacks the experience to handle this type of vehicle. Driving very fast or over uneven ground may increase the chance of injuries.
Track golf cart lawsuit opens, Concord Monitor, July 18, 2012
Golf Cart Brain Injury Victim Settles $5M Suit, Reuters, June 27, 2012