Insufficient Language Results in Waiver’s Failure to Protect for Negligence in a Deep Sea Fishing Trip – Admiralty Law

By Doyice Cotten

Sport, recreation, and fitness businesses regularly depend upon liability waivers for protection from liability for injuries resulting from the negligence of the business. What is still astounding is the quality of some of the waivers relied upon by some businesses. Some small businesses have investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars; other businesses’ investments are in the millions. In spite of this, some are relying upon what seems to be a 25 cent waiver.

In New Pelican Charters,LLC v.

Admiralty Law Supports Liability Waiver in New Jersey Parasail Case

By Doyice Cotten

The Olmos and their two sons signed up for a parasailing trip. While on the boat traveling out of the inlet, Dina Olmo shifted her sitting position just as the boat hit a wave, lifting her into the air. When she landed she felt “a stabbing pain at the bottom of [her] back.”The boat immediately returned to the dock and she was taken to the hospital. The two sons remained to continue with their parasailing trip.

Interesting Ruling by a Hawaii Court as to Enforcement of Admiralty Law Waivers

By Doyice Cotten

Admiralty law applied in a recent Hawaii case in which a man died during a scuba dive trip (Hambrook v. Smith, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109484). Hambrook drowned, at least in part, due to negligence on the part of the boat owner and its dive instructor. Suit was filed naming the owner, dive instructor, and Padi Worldwide Corporation as defendants. The defendants relied on a liability waiver signed by the deceased.

Hawaii Case Illustrates Why Admiralty Law Can be Important to Recreation Providers

By Doyice Cotten
Mark Strickert took his wife and two children on a snorkeling trip. He and his wife signed waivers on behalf of themselves and their children. The trip consisted of six scuba divers and six snorkelers (including the four Strickerts), two crew members and Mr. Neal (the party in charge) who stayed on the boat while the others entered the water. At some point the weather worsened causing extremely high winds and large waves. Neal signaled the snorkelers and divers to return to the boat.

Admiralty Law Trumps GOL 5-326 Statute in NY Jet Boat Waiver Case

Admiralty Law Trumps GOL 5-326 Statute in NY Jet Boat Waiver Case

By Doyice Cotten

In New York, liability waivers relieving a service provider of liability for its own negligence are generally enforceable, with a few exceptions. One major exception is New York General Obligations Law § 5-326, which provides:

Every covenant, agreement or understanding in or in connection with, or collateral to, any contract, membership application, ticket of admission or similar writing,

Admiralty Law: How does it Relate to Recreation Waivers?

 By Doyice Cotten

Black’s Law Dictionary defines Admiralty law (also called Maritime Law) as “that system of law that particularly relates to marine commerce and navigation, to business transacted at sea or relating to navigation, to ships and shipping, to seamen, to the transportation of persons and property by sea, and to marine affairs generally.”

One might ask “What does admiralty law have to do with sport, recreation, and fitness liability waivers?” It is important to understand that admiralty law applies to activities on any navigable waterway (e.g.,

Lake Tahoe Parasailing Waiver Case Governed by Federal Admiralty Law

By Doyice Cotten

A lady was injured while parasailing on Lake Tahoe and sued alleging negligence by the provider (Cobb v. Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, LLC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20139).  Prior to beginning the activity, she signed the following liability waiver intended to protect the provider from liability for injuries caused by provider negligence.

In consideration of my being allowed to participate in the parasailing  [*2] activities operated and conducted by [Zephyr],

Niagara Jet Boat Accident Pits Maritime Law vs. New York State Law

By Doyice Cotten

In 2016, Sarah Witkowski and her husband, Scott, were passengers on a jet boat operated by Niagara Jet Adventures, LLC, (“Niagara Jet”) when she suffered injury. They sued alleging negligence or willful and reckless conduct. Niagara Jet moved for summary judgment based on the waiver of liability signed by Sarah (Witkowski v. Niagara Jet Adventures, LLC, 2020).

Upon arrival, they noticed a safety video playing in the background;  Sarah “looked at” and signed a waiver of liability.

Waiver Fails for Virgin Islands Excursion Company

Circumstances of the Case

While their cruise ship was at St. Thomas, Katherine and Jamie Leach, along with about 20 other passengers, went on a day excursion operated by defendant Cruise Ship Excursions (CSE) aboard a 53-foot catamaran sailing from St. Thomas to St. John and back.

While boarding, the captain informed the passengers of the schedule and location of the life preservers.  While the boat was departing, the crew passed around to passengers a clip board which contained a purported waiver and release.

The Difference Between Ordinary Negligence and Gross Negligence

By Doyice Cotten

Most sport, recreation, and fitness professionals have an idea (though they are often incorrect) of what constitutes ordinary negligence. Many understand that

ordinary negligence is the failure to exercise the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. Many understand that negligence is indicated by  inattention, irresponsibility, and actions that are careless.  

A California federal court (Kabogoza v. Blue Water Boating,