Damages should be paid for kangaroo attack

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The Independent Online

An appeals court judge said Thursday that a club should pay a golfer damages for an attack by a kangaroo which jumped up and down on him.

Steven Shorten sued the Grafton District Golf Club, in New South Wales state 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of Sydney, blaming it for injuries he received in the attack on Oct. 27, 1996.

Shorten, then 13, had gone into long grass beside the course to retrieve a ball when he heard a noise "like the growling of a dog" and saw a kangaroo reared up on its hind legs looking at him.

Shorten told the court he backed away but the kangaroo, which was taller, chased him and grabbed him around the waist with its short forearms.

He swung at the kangaroo with his driver and it released him. But it returned, knocked him to the ground and jumped on him. The kangaroo was eventually scared off by a man who witnessed the attack and ran forward yelling.

Shorten, who suffered a fractured cheek bone and cuts to his face, claimed the club had breached its duty of care and sued it in New South Wales District Court. A judge threw the case out and Shorten appealed.

The New South Wales Court of Appeal found Thursday that the club had failed to warn golfers about the "small risk of injury from an occasional aggressive kangaroo," and sent the case back to the lower court for the amount of damages to be determined.

Justice Gerald Fitzgerald said the club knew there had been four attacks on golfers by kangaroos before Shorten was injured, but had done nothing to prevent further attacks.

"Importantly the club knew both of the risk to golfers and that most, if not all, golfers were unaware of the risk," Fitzgerald said.

Since the attack on Shorten, the club has added a warning on its scorecards which reads: "Wildlife can be hazardous - do not approach."