Electronic or Online Waivers: How Good Are They?

 

By Doyice Cotten

 The preferred form of waiver usage in recreation and sport businesses is quickly becoming electronic (waiver available on a computer, tablet, or online). I am asked whether electronic waivers are as valid and effective as paper waivers.  Today, such waivers are in widespread use and there is no question as to their validity. This writer has found no cases in which a waiver has failed simply because it was not a paper waiver.

Online Waiver Agreements: Not Worth the Paper They’re (Not) Written On?

This article by Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton addresses some of the concerns regarding the validity of online waivers. Mr Pendleton is with Kohner, Mann, and Kailis of Milwaukee.

Do courts enforce waiver agreements that are entered into electronically, for instance, via an online registration process? Or instead, will courts only find an agreement enforceable if the agreement is printed on a real piece of paper and signed in ink in the traditional manner?

The above questions raise a host of issues.

Online Waivers/Electronic Signatures in NY

In a 2008 case (Stephenson v. Food Bank for New York City), Devone Stephenson alleged that the league was negligent in its supervision, operation, and control of the basketball game in which he was injured. Stephenson suffered a broken jaw when an opponent suddenly punched him in the face. Stephenson alleged that there was rough play, taunting, and “trash talk” throughout the game even though his team captain asked the referees to clean up the game.

Injured Ski Patron Claims “No Consideration” when Purchase was Online and Waiver Executed Two Days Later

By Doyice Cotten

Ms. Patterson bought a ski lift ticket online, paying $57. Two days later she picked up her ticket at the resort. The front of this lift ticket contained an adhesive sticker, designed to be removed and adhered to a wicket on the ticket holder’s clothing, on which Ms. Patterson’s name, the ticket type, and a bar code were printed. The back of the lift ticket, like all lift tickets issued by Monarch Mountain on March 20,

A Unique Challenge to a Waiver – Retract the Waiver

By Doyice Cotten

In this case, two persons (Cynthia Mowery and Brian Alexander), injured in separate incidents, sued The Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy and the instructor, Barry Smith, alleging gross negligence in causing serious injuries. Each was in training at the Academy and each had signed a liability waiver (Mowery v. Smith, 2019).

The Unique Defense

The case addressed several issues, including Maryland waiver law [which will be presented in greater detail in a subsequent post].

The Importance of a Well-written Waiver

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.

Utah Supreme Court Reaffirms: Parental Waivers Are Not Enforceable in Utah

 By Doyice Cotten

Levi Rutherford, a minor and a highly skilled skier, suffered a brain injury when he skied into a patch of thick, wet, machine-made snow and crashed at a ski resort d.b.a. The Canyons. His parents sued alleging negligence and premises liability (Rutherford v. Talisker Canyon Finance Co., LLC, 2019).  Defendants claimed the suit was barred by the waiver signed by Rutherford’s parents and by the Utah ski statute.

Of interest in this post is the Utah Supreme Court ruling as to whether parental waivers are enforceable in Utah.

Kentucky Supreme Court Rules Parental Waivers Relied Upon by Commercial Entities Are NOT Enforceable

By Doyice Cotten

 The Kentucky Supreme Court is the latest court to record an opinion regarding the enforcement parental waivers (a waiver signed by the parent of a child releasing the activity provider from liability for subsequent injury suffered by the child). In this case, the child E.M., the child of Kathy Miller was injured while participating at a trampoline park (IN RE: Kathy Miller v. House of Boom Kentucky, LLC, 2019).

The issue was whether a pre-injury liability waiver signed by a parent on behalf of a minor child is enforceable under Kentucky law.

Test Your Legal IQ: Predict Whether the Court Enforced this Waiver

By Doyice Cotten

Many waivers, even otherwise well-written ones, fail because the language can be interpreted in two ways. This case provides us with a good example of such a waiver (Fresnedo v. Porky’s Gym III, 2019). The judges read the waiver and came up with two diametrically opposed interpretations. Here are the facts of the incident, some pertinent Florida waiver rulings, the waiver itself, and the arguments of the two sides – one saying the plaintiff clearly waived his right to redress;

Tough Mudder’s Waiver Prohibited by NY GOL § 5-326

By Doyice Cotten

In the June 14 post (Do You Have a “Landmine” in Your Electronic Waiver?), we focused on electronic waivers. The case, Scotti v. Tough Mudder Inc. (2019), however, dealt also with whether the waiver was enforceable in light of New York’s General Obligations Law § 5-326. The law provides:

[e]very covenant, agreement or understanding in or in connection with, or collateral to, any contract, membership application, ticket of admission or similar writing,