The Headline to a Boston Globe story this week was an attention-grabber: “Family terrorized by golf balls wins nearly $ 5 million from a neighboring country club.”
My initial reaction was that of John McEnroe to a chair umpire when he got a ruling he disagreed with: “You cannot be serious!”
A family with three daughters, ages 2 to 5, of the Sued Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston, Massachusetts, “for Trespass over the continual bombardment – and won a permanent injunction against golf balls on their property.”
The jury awarded the Tenczars $ 3.5 million for damages and mental and emotional suffering. The Globe story noted that court records indicate that with interest in the award totals $ 4.9 million.
As the Globe story detailed, the Tenczars purchased the brand-new four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home in Indian Pond Estates on the south shore for $ 750,000 in April 2017. That’s an important detail: the golf course, which opened in 2001 and was designed by Damian Pascuzzo, was there before the home. But the first time the family filled up the kiddie pool in the backyard, a stray golf ball from the 15th tee splashed in the water. So many windows were shattered that the Tenczars stopped replacing them with glass. The story includes a photo of the frowning Tenczars holding a plastic crate swimming in golf balls that have hit their house over the past several years.
The Tenczars’ home sits on an elevated bank, putting the home in line with the 15th tee.
“Should we have looked into the chances our house would be hit? Probably. I don’t know. We just fell in love with the house. It was our first house,” Erik Tenczar, 43, said in the article.
Efforts to contact the club apparently were met with no changes. To their credit, the family got an appraisal for netting, “only to be told a net couldn’t be constructed high enough to keep out balls.”
“They bought what they thought was their dream house and it became a nightmare for them,” said Bob Galvin, the Tenczars’ lawyer. “They couldn’t do anything outside during the golf season.”
“We never wanted a lawsuit; nobody wants a lawsuit,” Athina Tenczar told the Boston Globe. “We tried to go in civilly and work with them. We got some communication but then it stopped.”
“It’s not true that the golf course didn’t do anything,” said the club’s lawyer, John Flemming. “A suggestion that we were completely unresponsive, I don’t think is accurate at all.”
In March, Lawyers for the country club filed a notice that it would seek to appeal the case.
“I’m extremely confident that the injunction will be struck down,” Flemming said. “In my opinion, as a matter of law, the verdict of $ 3.5 million for alleged emotional distress is against the weight of the evidence.”
In the meantime, the country club has reconfigured the tee box for the 15th hole, and the Tenczars say it has been months since they’ve seen a golf ball on their property. That should be a problem solved, end of story, move on with your life, or else do the obvious thing: sell the house and buy another property to raise your family that doesn’t abut a golf course and put your children in harm’s way.
“Would you buy it?” Athina Tenczar got to the Globe’s Reporter. She Shook her head. “We’re not going to give this to another family.”