Lack of Equipment Inspections and Concern for Client Safety Is a Shortcut to Lawsuits

By Doyice Cotten

Lawsuits against health clubs are abundant – with dozens each year. There are many allegations in such suits ranging from failure to supervise, to employing uncertified personnel, to bad judgment of personal trainers, and many more causes of injury. One of the most frequent causes of injury has two prongs: 1) failure to regularly (as in daily) inspect the premises  and equipment; and 2) failure to maintain and keep equipment in good repair.

The photos in this post illustrate a potential problem that could result in a client injury and in a possible negligence lawsuit.

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,

Liability Waivers 101 (2018 Update)

By Doyice Cotten

Where there are fitness, recreation, and sport activities, there are injuries! Unfortunately, where there are injuries, there are lawsuits! Providers of these activities must take care to manage risk in three ways.  First, the provider should institute a sound risk management program which includes an approach toward reducing the likelihood of injury as much as possible.  Secondly, they should purchase financial protection through liability insurance. Third, they should use an agreement by which the client agrees to relieve the provider of liability for participant injury – the document should include an assumption of risk (for inherent risks),

Developing a ‘Safety Training Grid’

Ian McGregor, Ph.D.
President, McGregor & Associates

I am pleased to be able to bring you this article by Ian McGregor, a well-known leader, professional, and consultant in the Risk Management field. Dr. McGregor is a true expert in the field. Here Ian tackles a real problem facing sport, recreation, and fitness managers — training employees.  For more information, Dr. McGregor can be contacted at [email protected]. We are pleased that we will be able to occasionally post more risk management articles from SportRisk,

Getting Fit Fast?  . . . CAUTION: RHABDOMYOLYSIS ALERT

By Doyice Cotten

What is Rhabdomyolysis? Regular readers of SportWaiver.com will know that this is a disease that can result from extreme exercise. The ailment is often found in sedentary adults who attempt to “get in shape” overnight. However, the disease is also found sometimes in more active and younger individuals.

There have been a number of cases in recent years in which college athletes have been afflicted. Courtney Cameron in a recent AthleticBusiness.com post cites a number of cases resulting from indoor cycling and spinning classes.

Understanding Pennsylvania Waiver Law

By Doyice Cotten

Evans v. Fitness & Sports Club, LLC., 2016). This week we will look at Pennsylvania law and the ruling in the previous case. To review the facts:

On November 12, 2014, Patricia Evans was participating in a personal training session at LA Fitness with personal trainer Brandon McElwee. During the session, McElwee directed Evans to perform “suicide runs,” an activity that required Evans to repeatedly run forward to a weight and touch it and then run backward to the start line.

2016 Health Club Cases in New York — No Waivers

By Doyice Cotten

Injuries occurring in health clubs in the State of New York can be problematic for club owners since protection against liability for negligence is ineffective in many circumstances – one being in places of amusement or recreation.  New York statute G.O.L. Sec. 5-326, passed in 1976, deems waivers void as against public policy under specific circumstances.  Specifically, the law provides:

[e]very covenant, agreement or understanding in or in connection with, or collateral to,

Liability Waivers 101 (2016)

Where there are fitness, recreation, and sport activities, there are injuries! Unfortunately, where there are injuries, there are lawsuits! Providers of these activities must take care to manage risk in two ways.  First, they should take steps to reduce the likelihood of injury as much as possible.  Secondly, they should do everything possible to protect themselves and their business entity from the risks of financial loss.  A major financial risk is that of lawsuits by parties injured while participating in fitness,

Problem with Waiver Contained Within Membership Agreement

By Doyice Cotten

In Hinkal v. Gavin Pardoe & Gold’s Gym (2015), Melinda Hinkal was injured while a client of a Pennsylvania health club. She had signed a membership agreement containing a waiver of liability. While working with a personal trainer, she suffered a back injury and filed a negligence claim.

The major issue in the case was whether the waiver language was sufficiently conspicuous to be enforceable.

The Agreement

The Gold’s Gym membership agreement is printed on a single,

Is Your Waiver Included within your Membership Agreement? This Case May Motivate you to Rethink Your Format 

By Doyice Cotten

We often post reminders that two good rules to follow are: 1) Use a stand alone document for your waiver. Do not include it in a membership contract and do not combine it with a registration form. 2) Always make the waiver obvious – particularly if you are not following rule one. Make the waiver stand out so there is no question that the signer saw it, understood it, and realized the significance of what he or she was signing.