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A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a man who died in a golf cart accident at Mason City Country Club in August 2018. 

On Aug. 23, 2018, Derrick Berhow, 34, of Belmond, died at the hospital after falling off a golf cart at the country club.  

Keith Halfwassen of Jewell was driving a golf cart in the parking lot of the country club with Berhow standing on the back of the cart, Iowa State Patrol reported at the time.

As Halfwassen turned the cart, Berhow fell off and struck the pavement, according to officials.

Mason City Fire medics transported Berhow to Mercy Medical Center--North Iowa, where he later died from the injuries.

The Iowa State Patrol is assisting the Mason City Police Department in the investigation. No charges were ever filed against Halfwassen.

Berhow's estate, along with his wife Mandy Berhow and their child, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Cerro Gordo County Court on Feb. 18.

The family and estate is represented by Thomas Reavely and Gary Goudelock Jr. with Whitfield & Eddy Law of Des Moines.

The lawsuit was filed against Halfwassen, Mason City Country Club Inc., and Consolidated Electrical Distributors Inc., doing business as Culver Hahn Electric Supply.

According to the lawsuit, Culver Hahn sponsored a golf outing at the country club and provided alcoholic beverages to participants during the outing.

Both Berhow and Halfwassen participated.

“Halfwassen was served and consumed alcoholic beverages during the golf outing on August 23, 2018,” the lawsuit said. “Toward the end of the golf outing, Derrick Berhow was allowed to stand on a back of the golf cart at the Mason City Country Club Inc. As the golf cart was being driven by Halfwassen, and as Berhow was standing on the back of the golf cart, Berhow fell off the golf cart striking his head resulting in his death.”

Halfwassen was deemed intoxicated at the time of the accident as a result of a blood alcohol test.

“Mason City County (sic) Club, Inc., by and through its employees, sold and served Keith Halfwassen beer or liquor to a point where it knew or should have known that Keith Halfwassen would become intoxicated,” the lawsuit claimed.

The family is seeking damages including burial expenses, the present value of the amount of financial support which Berhow would have contributed to his son, Mandy Berhow’s loss of her husband, the child’s loss of a father, loss of net accumulation to the estate, pre-death pain and suffering, medical expenses and any other damages recognized by Iowa law.

The lawsuit accused the country club, Halfwassen and Culver Hahn of negligence.

The lawsuit claims that the country had a duty to provide a safe environment for guests.  

According to the lawsuit, Mason City Country Club breached its duties in several ways, including the following:

  • Allowing golfers at the Country Club to stand on the back of a golf cart while the golf cart was in operation.  

  • Allowing golfers at the Country Club to violate the rules and regulations of the Mason City Country Club, Inc.

  • Serving alcoholic beverages to the Halfwassen in an amount that allowed Halfwassen to become intoxicated.

  • Failing to adequately supervise invitees at the golf outing.

  • Failing to follow the proper safety procedure for the operation of the golf course;

  • Allowing intoxicated individuals to operate golf carts on its premises.

  • Allowing an unsafe condition to exist on its premises.

Halfwassen was accused of operating a golf cart in a unsafe manner while intoxicated and allowing Berhow to ride on the back of the golf cart.

“By sponsoring the golf outing, Defendant Culver Hahn had a duty to provide a safe environment for the participants and to follow all the rules of the Mason City Country Club,” the lawsuit said.

Culver Hahn filed a response March 6 denying many of the claims, saying the company did not provide alcohol to attendees directly.

“Mr. Berhow was allowed to participate in the golf outing on the day in question and his golf was paid for by Defendant (Culver Hahn),” the company said in a response. “The Defendant owed no duty to Mr. Berhow on the day in question in regard to his safety. The Defendant was not the owner of the premises and never had any control over the premises or the golf cart in question.”

Halfwassen responded to the lawsuit on March 13, noting that Culver Hahn provided drink tickets to those attending. He admitted to consuming alcohol that day but denied fault in Berhow’s death.

Mason City Country Club responded March 27 and denied most of the allegations.

“Actions by the Decedent (Berhow) not due to and other than intoxication, were the cause of injury and to the extent of the Decedent’s intoxication caused the incident, the doctrine of complicity applies,” The country club said in the answer. “The Decedent assumed the risk f his behavior and assented to the activity.”  

The lawsuit did not specify how much relief is requested. The order setting trial noted that the “amount in controversy exceeds $10,000.”

Judge Chris C. Foy has been appointed to this case.

The trial date is set for Aug. 4, 2020 in Cerro Gordo County.

 

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Contact Courtney at 641-421-0534 or on Twitter @CourtneyFiorini.

 

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