Failure to Name Party Costly

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.

What if a Minor Lies about His Age? Is the Waiver enforceable?

By Doyice Cotten

Service providers often ask “Is my waiver still enforceable if a minor lies about his age and signs the waiver?” The answer probably varies considerably depending upon where the incident happens. Remember, waiver law is state law and the law is not the same everywhere. A recent Georgia court provided some evidence regarding the answer to this question – at least for service providers in Georgia.

Adventure Air Sports Kennesaw, LLC (AASK) requires that all participants sign a waiver of liability and minor participants must have his or her parents sign the waiver.

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,

Creating Your Risk Management Plan

Jim Moss is a practicing attorney specializing in outdoor recreation law; he has the informative website Recreation Law , on which this article was originally published.

Risk Management Plans always sound good; but, they often turn out to be a lot of work! On top of that, many plans turn out to be so cumbersome that they do not work in actual practice. Jim offers suggestions as to how to create a risk management plan that actually works in real life;

Niagara Jet Boat: Was there Gross Negligence?

By Doyice Cotten

This post examines another important issue in the Witkowski v. Niagara Jet Boat Adventures, LLC, 2020 case – Gross Negligence or Ordinary Negligence.

In the jet boat case, the Witkowski’s took a jet boat ride and Sarah Witkowski suffered injury. The reader is referred back to last week’s post for the facts of the case.

The final issue addressed in the case was the allegation that Niagara Jet was grossly negligent.

Niagara Jet Boat Accident Pits Maritime Law vs. New York State Law

By Doyice Cotten

In 2016, Sarah Witkowski and her husband, Scott, were passengers on a jet boat operated by Niagara Jet Adventures, LLC, (“Niagara Jet”) when she suffered injury. They sued alleging negligence or willful and reckless conduct. Niagara Jet moved for summary judgment based on the waiver of liability signed by Sarah (Witkowski v. Niagara Jet Adventures, LLC, 2020).

Upon arrival, they noticed a safety video playing in the background;  Sarah “looked at” and signed a waiver of liability.

Most Waivers Are Adhesion Contracts – So What?

By Doyice Cotten

There is much confusion and misinformation about adhesion contracts as they relate to the enforceability of liability waivers in recreation, fitness, and sport activities. There is a common misconception that adhesion contracts are against public policy and subsequently unenforceable.

What is an Adhesion Contract?

An adhesion contract is a “standardized contract which is imposed and drafted by the party with superior bargaining power and which relegates the subscribing party only the option of signing the contract or rejecting it” (i.e.,

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. 

Niagara Jet Boat Patron Challenges Waiver on Negligence, Violation of a Safety Statute, Breaching a Condition of a Contract, and Gross Negligence

By Doyice Cotten

Scott and Sarah Witkowski and their son rode a Niagara Jet Adventures(referred to as Niagara) jet boat after having signed a waiver of liability. The boat hit a large wave throwing Scott and the son into Sarah causing injury.  The Witkowskis sued Niagara alleging negligence and gross negligence. They also alleged negligence per se claiming Niagara violated a safety statute (This was not properly pled and was dismissed.)

The Waiver

Pertinent parts of the waiver read:

“In consideration of participating in whitewater,

Hot Air Balloons: Is a Balloon a Common Carrier in California?

 

By Doyice Cotten

The issue as to whether an activity or mode of transportation is a common carrier can determine the duty owed to passengers. A recent California case (Grotheer v. Escape Adventures, Inc., 2017), addressed the issue of whether a hot air balloon is a common carrier. The court defined a common carrier of persons as anyone “who offers to the public to carry persons.” (Civ. Code, § 2168.)

The duty that a common carrier owes to its clientele depends upon whether the ride is gratuitous or if there is a fee charged.