By Doyice Cotten
In a 2014 case, a Connecticut Superior Court failed to enforce a pre-injury waiver signed by the plaintiff (Lecuna v. Carabiners Fairfield, LLC, 2014 Conn. Super LEXIS 2610). Plaintiff fell from the facility while “bouldering” and sued claiming negligence.
Among the allegations were:
• Climbing hold attachment turned or came loose.
• Attendant “spotter” had walked away and was not present to break the fall.
• The floor surface was not cushioned.
The court decided against granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant and gave four reasons:
1) There was a question of fact as to whether loose climbing handles was an inherent risk in wall climbing (that handles gradually work loose, a condition that cannot be minimized by the provider). The court thought that since this was opening day, they should not have been loose.
2) There was evidence that the staff member failed to perform as expected.
3) There was evidence that the floor was not padded.
It should be noted that even in spite of these three findings, Carabiners would probably only have been negligent – liability would be negated by a valid waiver of liability. However, the fourth reason given by the court was critical.
4) And most importantly, the court held that the Connecticut Supreme Court does not support the enforcement of waivers.
The court did not grant summary judgment and the case went to trial to determine if Carabiners was negligent.