WAILUKU - A golfer who says he was attacked by a large bird at the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course is suing Maui County, alleging the county was negligent in failing to remove the animal from the course.
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court, Wailuku resident Ray Sakamura was attacked after teeing off on the second hole Jan. 26. He suffered substantial bodily injury, including a compression fracture of his L-4 vertebrae, the lawsuit says.
The animal that attacked him is described in the suit as a "large bird that had taken up residence" at the course pond.
In a claim Sakamura filed against the county in March, he said he was golfing with five other men when a duck or goose "charged me and bit my pant leg." He said he tried to back away and fell onto his back and side as the animal continued to attack, biting his hand hard enough to cause bleeding. He said he pulled the bird off and went to his cart to get a Band-Aid. Sakamura's claim also says he suffered an L-4 compression fracture in his back from the attack.
Instead of removing the bird, the lawsuit alleges that the county "allowed the bird to reside on the property after it had attacked other golfers."
The county also didn't warn people using the golf course that there were animals on the course, the lawsuit said.
"Specifically, they failed to warn the general public of the presence of birds residing on the course, which were previously known to attack people," the lawsuit says.
Deputy Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey called the claim meritless.
"We do not purchase, own or in any way take care of this duck or goose," she said Thursday. "And we have never had reports of it injuring anyone else on the golf course.
"We defend against all frivolous claims aggressively."
Wailuku attorney Jan Apo filed the lawsuit on behalf of Sakamura.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@maui news.com.