Bob Lobel may have just lost a round in his legal battle with the Woodland Golf Club but his fight isn’t over yet.
The retired WBZ-TV sports anchor sued the Newton club in November, claiming that he was unfairly prevented from using a specialized cart to play on its greens. Lobel has spinal stenosis, walks with crutches, and uses a cart with a seat that swivels and allows him to hit a golf ball.
The original lawsuit sought more than $250,000 in damages, as well as legal costs and an order essentially allowing Lobel and others with similar needs full access to the greens.
But Lobel will no longer be able to win money beyond his legal expenses, because three of the four counts in his original suit were dismissed following a request by the club’s lawyers. Michael Longo, an attorney for Lobel, wrote to US District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor on Feb. 23, saying Lobel wouldn’t oppose the club’s motion to dismiss those counts.
The one count that remains in the case accuses Woodland of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide a cart that would allow Lobel to play golf on the course. Longo said in an interview that means Lobel will still be eligible to win his legal costs and an order changing the golf club’s behavior.
Tim Doherty, president of the golf club, distributed a note on Thursday that referred to the dismissal of the three claims as an “important and positive development from the club’s perspective,” in part because Lobel will no longer be able to recover monetary damages other than attorneys’ fees.
The dispute arose after a Woodland member tried to bring Lobel to drive an adaptive golf cart to play golf there in 2014. Doherty noted that the club’s subsequent testing determined that the use of the cart would damage the greens. Lobel, he noted, was allowed to use the cart except to ride in the bunkers or on the greens.
Longo, too, referred to this dismissal as a positive development for his client. Lobel’s motivation, Longo said, was never about money. Instead, he said, it was about prompting a positive change to make the greens at the golf course more accessible.
“That was the whole point of this case from the beginning. . . to have access for anyone who is disabled to be able to play on the course, and that’s still what the case is about,” Longo said. “Dropping those other claims really focuses the case on that exact thing.”