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Paraplegic wins $6M court award for fall from Mid Pacific tee

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 08:35 p.m. HST, Jan 10, 2013

<br />Dennis oda / doda@staradvertiser.com<br />Amar Sappal, who was left paralyzed from the waist down when he broke his back in a fall at Mid-Pacific Country Club, is suing the club for millions of dollars in damages. At left is Loretta Sheehan, one of Sappal's lawyers, and in the center is his wife, Kamlesh Sappal.<br />

A Circuit Court jury returned a verdict today awarding a 79-year-old man about $6.2 million for the broken back he suffered when he fell 15 to 20 feet late at night from the first tee at the Mid Pacific Country Club.

The jury found that Amar Sappal suffered damages of nearly $12.5 million for his injuries that left him paralyzed below his torso.

But the panel also found that Sappal and Mid Pacific were equally negligent.

The finding means that the country club must pay half the amount of damages under the verdict.

Sappal was on the illuminated first tee area as a guest of his son, a club member, and another member at about 11 p.m. on June 30,2009 when they said an automatic spindler went off.

Sappal’s lawyers argued that the spray stunned Sappal and knocked him backward down a slope and over the edge of the first tee.

Mid Pacific lawyers denied the country club was liable, suggesting that Sappal was intoxicated and arguing that he was familiar with the elevated tee from playing golf there previously.

“I  believe in our jury system and I think at the end of the day, it’s very fair,” Sappal said about the verdict.

Michael Livingston, one of Sappal’s lawyers, also said he thought the verdict was fair.

Arthur Roeca, Mid Pacific’s lawyer, did not have any comment.

Following a trial spanning about five weeks in Circuit Judge Gary Chang’s courtroom, the jury deliberated a total of about two days before returning the verdict this afternoon.

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niimi wrote:
I would appeal. Golfing at 11:00 PM and you know it's an elevated tee. That's my opinion. The Indian fellow should get zero for a frivolous lawsuit. Again, just my opinion.
on January 10,2013 | 03:18PM
RichardCory wrote:
That's for pointing out that it's your opinion. Because, you know, I might otherwise think it's a fact unless you say so. As a side note, I'm going to assume that the people who spent a month listening to all of the evidence were in a better position to decide the case than the peanut gallery here.
on January 10,2013 | 04:11PM
Wardog wrote:
Were you one of those dumb jurors?
on January 10,2013 | 04:25PM
RichardCory wrote:
I wish.
on January 10,2013 | 04:32PM
OldDiver wrote:
While standing on the tee the sprinkler went off. Mr. Sappal stepped to the side to avoid the sprinkler and fell off the slope.
on January 10,2013 | 04:57PM
HD36 wrote:
The art of Voire Dire, of choosing a jury, is often the deciding factor in a case. In this case, I'd choose liberal women who have are older than 50, and are minorities.
on January 10,2013 | 09:13PM
twitter6 wrote:
WINNER for most outrageous case of the century. Will make national headlines. Thanks to the jury for an unprecedented verdict. Definitely not the cream of the crop.
on January 10,2013 | 08:15PM
localguy wrote:
Kind of a hollow victory. Verdict will likely be appealed. Even if he wins again, subtract 20-30 something percent for attorney's fees and not as much left. He will have to live beneath his means to make the money last.
on January 10,2013 | 03:30PM
aunty wrote:
Subtract 20-30 percent from 6.2 million at age 79...or any age, is a good chunk of money esp for someone using bad judgement as an excuse to blame others for the results. He should get the payout one dollar a day.
on January 10,2013 | 06:03PM
nitpikker wrote:
why not assign some fault to his group who decided to hit a ball that late?!?! their fault to begin with!!
on January 10,2013 | 03:41PM
tasod wrote:
They did. That's why its 50-50.
on January 10,2013 | 06:01PM
twitter6 wrote:
We should go the the juror's homes completely intoxicated, behave recklessly, get injured and collect big bucks from the homeowner. That is basically what the jury decided. I just made a 11PM tee time at MidPac.
on January 10,2013 | 08:20PM
csdhawaii wrote:
Hmmm...not sure I agree with this. It's awful that Mr. Sappal is paralyzed, but I don't see any negligence on the part of the golf course and I think this sets a very bad precedence. And did they mean SPRINKLER when they wrote "spindler?" Those two words aren't really that close, are they?
on January 10,2013 | 03:45PM
fbiguy wrote:
Never heard of an 11 PM tee time.
on January 10,2013 | 04:12PM
nishii3771 wrote:
When will people start being responsible for their actions instead of looking for someone to blame? It is in fact a very terrible accident that Mr. Sappal has experienced. But it was late at night and there was some alcohol involved. Mid-Pacific Country Club has been there as long as I can remember and I don't recall anything like this happening before........I thought stuff like this happened only on the Mainland.
on January 10,2013 | 04:12PM
jussayin wrote:
Well said.
on January 10,2013 | 06:53PM
nrm808 wrote:
Agree!!! Once again, it's time to blame someone else. Ive been teaching my kids to take responsibility for the actions they choose. Not go and blame someone else when they fall down. Before you know it, kids falling down at school when the sprinklers go on ,will be able to sue the state ,because they got startled. Enough is enough already with these frivolous lawsuits. When will common sense win in the courts.
on January 10,2013 | 07:14PM
gobows wrote:
there should be a age limit on who can be on a golf course that late. A curfew maybe?
on January 10,2013 | 04:13PM
kailua_hi wrote:
Lesson learned: It pays to be stupid.
on January 10,2013 | 04:18PM
Wazdat wrote:
WHAT... total B $
on January 10,2013 | 04:38PM
ichiban wrote:
What I'd like to know is was there a sign prominently displayed at Mid-Pac CC warning the golfers that " GOLFERS ARE ENTERING TO PLAY AT YOUR OWN RISK. THE ESTABLISHMENT WILL NOT BE HELD LIABLE IF YOU INCUR ANY INJURY OR IF YOUR PROPERTY IS DAMAGED, STOLEN...ETC,ETC...WHILE ENJOYING THE USE OF OUR PREMISES..ETC,ETC. I know long ago Pearl CC got sued and lost. They said if a sign similar to the way worded above was displayed, they would be relieved of any liability. I got a friend so I'll find out'
on January 10,2013 | 04:48PM
mcc wrote:
The moral of the story is that it is all right to get drunk and do stupid things then sue someone else because it was their fault. Another greedy plaintiff\ and his ambulance chasing lawyer.
on January 10,2013 | 05:01PM
jussayin wrote:
Boy, things just don't make sense. I guess the golf courses will soon make you sign a disclaimer form before you can play. If verdicts like this continue, all golf courses will be flat, no sand traps, no water hazards, no golf carts, blah, blah.
on January 10,2013 | 06:52PM
noheawilli wrote:
So Im drinking at evey golf course on the island and when I fall.. I'll let the jury decide what is resonable. Bravo!
on January 10,2013 | 07:20PM
SteveToo wrote:
My first thought was, "WHAT". But then why did the sprinklers go off it the golf course was open to golfers????????????????? But still lets see 30% of 6 million will leave the man 4.2 million. At his age his son will be inheriting a lot of money.
on January 10,2013 | 07:35PM
st1d wrote:
or, his attorney claims his 30% of total $6.2 million award: $1.8 million. but, plaintiff is 50% responsible, so he only collects on the club's payment of $3.1 million, leaving plaintiff with $1.3 million. the lawyer skates away with $500,000 more than plaintiff.
on January 10,2013 | 07:53PM
hawaiikone wrote:
For getting 12 dummies to award that much he deserves it...
on January 10,2013 | 08:01PM
twitter6 wrote:
Yup, few screws loose with the jurors. Let's go to the juror's homes, drunk, misbehave and get injured. I'm sure the jury would freely give us a multi-million dollar settlement.
on January 10,2013 | 08:26PM
csdhawaii wrote:
The $6.2 million is already accounting for the 50% responsibility. The jury said $12.5 million in damage was done but because they found him 50% liable (in my opinion he was 100% liable) they cut the award down to $6.2 million.
on January 10,2013 | 10:18PM
DeeCee wrote:
where does it say they were golfing? they were not golfing, they were drunk and screwing around on the tee. i've been there a million times and we all know the first tee has a big drop. so did he, he was being stupid...
on January 10,2013 | 07:58PM
csdhawaii wrote:
You know, you're right...the article never said he was playing golf, just that he was on the (illuminated) tee at 11 pm. There probably was no tee time, they were just hanging out at the tee for some reason and not even playing golf. If that's the case, then even MORE so he never should have been awarded anything.
on January 10,2013 | 10:21PM
LKK56 wrote:
I have never been to that golf course, I don't golf. I do drink. If you drink and drive and you kill somebody - you do not stand a chance - you go to jail and get sued alot. You drink at the golf course - fall on a golf course at 11:00 p.m. that you play at on a regular basis - you get to sue the golf course and win $6 million. I have yet to fanthom this logically - it just not make sense. Does this mean, if I drink at a bar - and decide to walk home because I should not be driving - I drip on a small crack on the sidewalk - I get to sue the county - not logical.
on January 10,2013 | 08:13PM
itsok wrote:
why do so many people feel they need to judge after reading this short article? does it make you feel better about yourself?
on January 10,2013 | 09:48PM
rigormortis wrote:
Because, ultimately these awards come from your pocket. Insurance money does not grow on trees, but come from your premiums all insurance. You may not see it, but it's factored in on all monetary transactions. Imagine that this will cost you $6 for every judgement of this size...
on January 10,2013 | 11:51PM
kekahahi wrote:
makin mahnee, makin mahnee
on January 10,2013 | 10:04PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Since when was common sense optional?
on January 10,2013 | 10:10PM
vny8808 wrote:
Just gotta nuke all the scum sucking lawyers. Opps, but then there will be no politicians either.
on January 11,2013 | 12:52AM
kuewa wrote:
"below his torso"? What does that mean? Legs only? The torso is a big part of the body.
on January 11,2013 | 12:56AM
Allenk wrote:
I wonder if Mid Pac has a sign that says no golfing after dusk, or something like use of the putting green and surrounding practice areas after hours is at your own risk? This would have prevented a lot of problems.
on January 11,2013 | 06:50AM
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