Andrew Giuliani flubs Duke golf suit

Judge doubtful about its merits

Staff WriterMay 21, 2009 

The son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to make a federal case against Duke University for kicking him off the golf team. But a federal magistrate says Andrew Giuliani's case belongs in the drink.

Wallace Dixon, of North Carolina's Middle District, offered his opinion on the case this week, in a document peppered with references to golf and the movie "Caddyshack."

Dixon said Robert Ekstrand, the Durham lawyer representing Andrew Giuliani, spoiled his case when he argued that Duke reneged on a contract with the aspiring pro golfer when he was a high school recruit.

"His analysis slices far from the fairway," Dixon said in the memorandum.

Duke, in previous court filings, claims no such contract existed. Giuliani, Duke's lawyers said, was neither guaranteed a spot on the golf team nor promised lifetime access to the university's facilities.

Duke contends that Giuliani squandered his opportunity to be on the team after flipping a putter, breaking a driver, gunning his car engine in a golf course parking lot and throwing an apple in the face of a teammate. The misconduct got Giuliani bumped off the team last year.

Dixon, a magistrate judge, was assigned to the case last week. James A. Beaty, chief Middle District judge, said an increase in criminal cases in recent years is requiring more attention of district judges. If Duke and Giuliani consent, the magistrate judge can have trial jurisdiction.

"We are pleased with the decision and appreciate that the court understood the potential implications of this lawsuit for sports teams everywhere," said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke vice president for public affairs and government relations.

Efforts to reach Ekstrand on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Throughout his document, Dixon describes Ekstrand's various legal arguments as "a swing and a miss," needing "a sand wedge" and "attempting to take a mulligan."

Dixon even references the golf film "Caddyshack," and Bill Murray's crazed groundskeeper character, Carl Spackler.

Dixon said Ekstrand's claim "brings to mind Carl Spackler's analysis from the movie 'Caddyshack' ... 'He's on the final hole. He's about 455 yards away, he's gonna hit about a 2 iron, I think.' "

anne.blythe@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8741

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