One of the most common reasons that a waiver fails when challenged in court is that it violates the public policy of the state. Often readers are puzzled by the term “public policy” and ask, “Just what is public policy?” This concept is quite broad and is not easily defined or explained.
Black’s Law Dictionary states that public policy is “… that general and well-settled public opinion relating to man’s plain, palpable duty to his fellowmen,
Waivers and releases of liability can fail to protect for many reasons. Releases in three 2009 cases failed to protect because the waiver did not name the protected parties either by name or by function. These three cases can give sport, recreation, and fitness providers some guidance in writing a waiver or in evaluating a waiver currently in use.
Porter v. Dartmouth College
In Porter v. Dartmouth College (2009 U.S. Dist.
This article appeared in Fitness Management in May, 2008.
In a 2007 California waiver case, Georja Jones became a member of the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, a fitness center located within the Loews Santa Monica Hotel, Calif. She signed a membership agreement that consisted of several paragraphs. In paragraph seven, titled “Waiver of Liability,” Jones acknowledged that she was using the facility at her own risk, and waived the liability of the hotel.
By Doyice J. Cotten
This article appeared in Fitness Management in September, 2008.
Ning Yan fell while running on a treadmill, and died from his injuries. A representative of his estate sued, alleging that the fitness center was negligent in placing the treadmill too close to a wall. The estate contended that the treadmill belt threw Yan off the rear of the treadmill into a wall that was only 2 ½ feet from the treadmill.
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.
This is the final part of a 5-part series of ways to reduce the risk of a lawsuit. This part focuses on guidelines dealing with the basic fundamentals of successful risk management. Each subject encompasses an immense amount of subject matter. See the sources cited for more information.
15. Know and Adhere to Industry Standards
Professionals are held to a standard of care that is deemed reasonable and any conduct that falls below that standard of care may leave the club liable for injuries or damages.
The following was originally published on www.sadlersports.com/blog/.
John Sadler responds to a frequently-asked question. Although there is little case law regarding this subject, John provides some “real life” advice.
Actual Client Question:
We were wondering if you require hard signatures on the release of liability form, player parent contract, code of ethics? We do registration on line to where everyone has their own password to login to their childs registration,
The Cohen v. Five Brooks Stable court (2008 Cal. App. LEXIs 222) gave some sound advice to writers of waivers. While acknowledging that California courts hold releases of liability to a high standard of clarity, the court emphasized that “An effective release is hard to draft only if the party for whom it is prepared desires to hide the ball, which is what the law is designed to prevent. . . . A release that forthrightly makes clear to a person untrained in the law that the releasor gives up any claim against the releasee for the latter’s own negligence .
Minnesota joined the list of states that have enforced a liability waiver which was signed by a parent on behalf of a minor child (Moore v. Minnesota Baseball Instructional School, 2009 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 299). Moore signed a waiver for her son releasing the Minnesota Baseball Instructional School from liability arising from injury or loss caused by negligence or otherwise while participating in such activity or while upon the premises.
The minor suffered the loss of vision in one eye while throwing woodchips during a free period.
Keeping waivers crystal clear can protect you from lawsuits.
Some waivers are upheld when challenged in a court of law, while others are not. Why do some waivers pass and some fail? All waivers must meet the standard of being clear and unambiguous, and the most frequent reason for failure is that the waiver was ambiguous and poorly written. The following four cases illustrate two well-written waivers and two poorly written waivers.