Universities Requiring Football Players to Sign “Waiver-Type” Documents

By Doyice Cotten

A number of schools are requiring football players (and sometimes their parents) to sign an agreement relating to COVID-19. Some agreements are primarily a warning of the risk, but others seem intended to waive the liability of the university should the player contract the disease.

Ohio State University

ESPN announced that Ohio State University players and their parents were asked to sign a “Buckeye Pledge” by which they acknowledged the risk of COVID-19 and agreed to testing,

High Ropes Course Waiver Protects Provider and Builder Under Colorado Law

By Doyice Cotten

In  June, 2018, Jodi Sheldon was seriously injured while participating in a high ropes course at the Golden Bell Ranch. She sued Golden Bell Retreat, Cross Bearing Adventures (“CBA”), the company which constructed the course and trained employees, and it’s owner Kent McIlhany. alleging negligence (Sheldon v. Golden Bell Retreat, 2020). All three defendants claimed Ms. Sheldon’s claims are barred by a waiver and indemnification agreement signed by Sheldon.

The Waiver

The waiver read,

COVID-19 – Liability Insurance – and Waivers!

By Doyice Cotten

No one needs reminding of the national emergency relating to COVID-19 and the problems it has brought. Many providers of sport, recreation, and fitness activities are worrying about their liability in this situation.

In terms of risk management, most utilize two major tools to protect their business or organization from undue financial risk – these tools are liability insurance and liability waivers. Unfortunately, many are finding that their insurance does not cover communicable diseases and are taking a look at their waiver and wondering if it will protect them.

Hanrahan-Fox v. Top Gun Shooting Sports (2019): A Look at Missouri Waiver Law

By Doyice Cotten

Marie Hanrahan-Fox, after patronizing the shooting range operated by Defendant Top Gun Shooting Sports, alleged that she suffered irreversible hearing loss due to the inadequate hearing protection provided her by Top Gun.  She claimed that Top Gun was negligent; in addition, her husband made a claim for loss of consortium.  They also made a products liability claim against Pyramex Safety Products, LLC, which was not before this court.

Top Gun moved for Summary Judgment based on the waiver signed by the plaintiff. 

Parental WaiversWaivers Signed by Parents on Behalf of a Minor! Are they Enforceable in Your State?

By Doyice Cotten

At one point, maybe 25 years or so ago, it was not unusual to hear or read ——-, “Waivers are not worth the paper they are printed on!” That time has come and gone; now virtually every professional in sport, recreation, and fitness recognizes that in most states, waivers can provide valuable protection against significant financial loss as a result of injury lawsuits.

In fact, courts in about 45 states enforce well-drafted liability waivers that are voluntarily signed by adult participants in sport,

A Perfect Electronic Waiver will not Protect if the Provider cannot Authenticate the Electronic Signature

By Doyice Cotten

In several previous posts (including Established Protocol for Administering an Electronic Waiver Protects Fair when Participant is Killed), this author has commented on how the validity of electronic waivers is dependent upon following procedures by which the electronic signature of the participant can be shown to be authentic.

Facts of the Case

In each of the articles, cases in which the electronic waiver has been enforced are reported.

Apparent Authority: Know Who is Signing the Waiver

By Doyice Cotten

Tony Coleman sued Otese, Ltd. (d/b/a Texas Raceway) for injuries he sustained at a drag strip owned by  Otese (Coleman v. Otese, Ltd, 2020). He claimed there was excessive oil on the racetrack.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the defense, in part based on the waiver signed by Coleman.

Coleman appealed making several arguments – one of which was that he had not signed the waiver.

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 Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules that Waiver is Unenforceable in Wrongful Death Triathlon Case

By Doyice Cotten

Notice of Error: The ruling was erroneously reported in this post. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the waiver was enforceable.

Derek Valentino drowned during the swimming leg of the Philadelphia Triathlon in 2010 (Valentino v. Philadelphia Triathlon, LLC., 2019). A wrongful death suit was filed by his children alleging negligence, gross negligence, outrageous acts, and recklessness. The trial court disallowed all except the claim of ordinary negligence.

The defense claimed protection against negligence based on the waiver and release of liability signed by Derek prior to the race.

How Ambiguous Language Can Cause a Waiver to Fail

By Doyice Cotten

A waiver of liability is a contract intended to relieve a service provider from liability for injuries resulting from the negligence of the provider. Such waivers are enforceable in at least 45 states providing they meet certain requisites. A major requirement in all states is that the waiver must be clear and unambiguous to be enforceable. Some examples of requirements regarding language include 1) A clear and unambiguous contract must be enforced… 2) Language must be unambiguous,