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.

Summary Judgment Rulings in Recent New Jersey Waiver Cases when Gross Negligence is Alleged

By Doyice Cotten

Plaintiffs often allege both negligence and gross negligence when injured and seeking redress. New Jersey law generally holds that “contracting parties are afforded the liberty to bind themselves as they see fit.” Waivers of provider negligence, however, are disfavored in law and must be subjected to close judicial scrutiny. Such waivers must reflect the intent of the party giving up rights to do so voluntarily and with knowledge of the consequences. Further the signer of a contract,

U.S. District Colorado Court of Appeals Addresses Unsigned Waiver (Disclaimer) on Lift Ticket

 By Doyice Cotten

Carolyn Raup was injured dismounting a chairlift. The lift ticket was purchased for her by her daughter and son-in-law. The ticket had a waiver on its back side and a warning on the front reading “IMPORTANT WARNING ON REVERSE.” She sued alleging negligence plus other claims. The trial court ruled that Vail was protected by the waiver language. She appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in this action (Raup v. Vail Summit Resorts,

Should the Specific Risks of the Activity Be Listed in the Waiver?

By Doyice Cotten

 A 2018 New Mexico rappelling case (Dominguez v. United States, 2018) illustrates clearly why it is important that waivers warn the signing client of the risks faced in the activity.

Sarah Dominguez, a civilian, participated in a team-building activity at the Para-Rescue Academy at Kirkland Air Force Base. She informed the person in charge that she had never rappelled; she said later that she had been informed there would be no climbing involved in the activity. 

Do Texas Courts Enforce Waivers for Gross Negligence?

By Doyice Cotten

Last week’s post, Court in Texas Trampoline Park Case Enforces Waiver for Gross Negligence, involved an occasion when a Texas Appellate court did enforce a waiver for gross negligence. But, when one looks at previous court rulings, it becomes clear that there are two schools of thought on the matter of whether waivers can protect against liability for gross negligence.

Some Texas courts feel that gross negligence is not a separate cause of action from that of negligence.

Court in Texas Trampoline Park Case Enforces Waiver for Gross Negligence

By Doyice Cotten

Graciela Quiroz and her sixteen-year-old son went to Jumpstreet for trampolining. Before jumping, she signed a pre-injury waiver of liability “Jumpstreet, LLC Release and Parent/Guardian Waiver of Liability and Assumption of Risk.” After signing the waiver, Graciela attempted to do a flip and injured her neck; this resulted in paralysis from the waist down. She sued Jumpstreet for negligence and gross negligence and as next friend of two minor children for their loss of parental consortium and for mental anguish;

Oops! The Injured Client Did Not Sign the Waiver — What Now?

By Doyice Cotten

Tyrone Hill tripped over a yoga mat which had been left on the floor of a basketball court and suffered a fracture of the leg (Hill v. LA Fitness, 2018).  He sued LA Fitness alleging negligence.

LA Fitness moved for summary judgment on the basis of a liability waiver signed by Hill. Pertinent parts of the waiver follow (Bold emphasis added.):

IMPORTANT: RELEASE AND WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNITY.

Pennsylvania Waiver Law

By Doyice Cotten

Courts in few states have given as much guidance regarding liability waivers for negligence as has Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has many requirements for effective waivers, but its courts consistently enforce well-written waivers that follow these guidelines.

Validity of Waivers

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed the validity of waivers of liability for negligence a number of times in the previous century and in this one. It has often specified that an exculpatory clause is valid if:

  • “it does not contravene any policy of the law,