New Hampshire Court Enforces Unsigned Ski Waiver

by Doyice Cotten

The enforceability of waivers on the back of tickets has been addressed on on several occasions. We know that, in general, waivers that are signed are safer and more likely to be enforced; however, it seems that ski lift ticket waivers are enforced in a number of states. We have found that the answer to the question depends upon the state in which the incident occurs. Most recently, we examined the issue in Colorado.

Death of University of the Cumberlands Wrestler results in Lawsuit Against University & staff

By Doyice Cotten and Inside Higher Ed report that a lawsuit has been filed in the death of a college wrestler, Grant Brace, during a conditioning activity about a year ago. Just when we think coaches have the training to keep athletes safe while getting them into shape, it seems that we slip back into 1900’s where failing to provide water was thought to make the athlete tough.

According to, Coach Jordan Countryman and assistant Jake Sinkovics required numerous circuits sprinting up and down a steep hill called “punishment hill”

In Memory of Mary Cotten

Many of you had the opportunity to meet and know Mary; others have been fortunate enough to talk with her on the phone; and others have just seen evidence of her on the website and in our book. It has been a year since she passed away on September 7, 2020 after battling lymphoma. I know some of you knew of her passing, but many are not aware of it. We were married 58 years.

Mary was instrumental in the success of our website and in the ten editions our waiver book,

Another Waiver Fails because the Waiver Failed to Include the Word “Negligence”

by Doyice Cotten

In a 2019 Texas case involving an accident on a  fishing charter boat from New Pelican Charters (New Pelican Charters, LLC  v. Unknown Claimants, 2019) The injuries occurred when the boat struck a shrimp boat. It was in navigable waters, thus admiralty law was appropriate. Both claimants had signed a liability waiver prior to boarding the vessel. The waiver read:

“I, the undersigned, have been informed and understand that there are inherent risks and hazards associated with offshore party fishing and boating.

Weakness in AED Statute Focuses on a Problem

Estiban Mejia suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while exercising at a 24 Hour Fitness gym. A California statute (H&S Code sec. 104113) requires that every “health studio” acquire an  automatic external defibrillator (AED) and train personnel to use the AED. Mejia’s estate (collectively, plaintiffs) sued the alleged owners and operators of the gym alleging among other claims, that the club failed to comply with the statute. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the club. This is the appeal.

“Anguish” Failed to be an Effective Substitute for “Negligence” in Ohio Case

By Doyice Cotten

Beatrice Oliveri, was given two free sessions to work out at OsteoStrong. She suffered from osteoporosis and her doctor advised her to be careful. She completed a wellness assessment and signed the following waiver of liability:

I am physically capable of participating in an exercise program or the OsteoStrong system. I have either received permission from my doctor to perform the exercise and the OsteoStrong system or I decided to participate in the OsteoStrong program without consulting my physician and I assume all responsibilities for my decision to engage in the OsteoStrong program.

3-inch Gap in Sauna Floor: Was It Ordinary or Gross Negligence?

By Doyice Cotten

Cynthia MacAdams, age 75, signed a YMCA waiver prior to using the sauna. The floor consisted of two separate platforms made of wood slats on top of a concrete base; they could be lifted and pushed apart for cleaning, but were not pushed back together after cleaning. This resulted in a 3 inch gap in the flooring.  When she got ready to leave, one of her feet went into the gap causing her to fall onto her right side.

Overbroad Waivers and Releases

By Doyice Cotten

Waivers and releases sometimes fail because the party that drew up the waiver made the waiver overbroad. Whether overbroad because it attempts to protect too many parties or because it attempts to protect against essentially “any reason whatsoever.” Of course, what is acceptable in a waiver varies from state to state. The following two non-sport waivers or releases serve to illustrate some of the standards existing in New York State.

 Guerra v.

Gross Negligence Claim in California Motocross Case Fails

By Doyice Cotten

Scott Champion and some other motocross racers filed suit against Feld Entertainment, Inc. claiming injury because defendants, in order to dry the track, used caustic lime on the soil and failed to mix it properly (Champion v. Feld Motor Sports, Inc., 2021). Feld argued that the waiver signed by plaintiffs protected against claims for ordinary negligence; further, plaintiffs failed to plead gross negligence.

California Gross Negligence Law

The Court then set out to ascertain whether plaintiff has sufficiently stated a claim.

Washington Supreme Court Determines Whether a Planet Fitness Waiver Was Conspicuous

By Doyice Cotten

Carol McCoy joined Planet Fitness (PF) and signed a liability waiver intended to relieve PF for liability for its own negligence. The waiver was included as part of a membership agreement that contained a banner containing the capitalized and bolded letters  “RELEASE OF LIABILITY” and “ASSUMPTION OF RISK.”

The second paragraph of the waiver provision reads:

I understand that I am not obligated to sign this agreement and should not do so if there are any unfilled blanks.