Lake Tahoe Parasailing Waiver Case Governed by Federal Admiralty Law

By Doyice Cotten

A lady was injured while parasailing on Lake Tahoe and sued alleging negligence by the provider (Cobb v. Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, LLC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20139).  Prior to beginning the activity, she signed the following liability waiver intended to protect the provider from liability for injuries caused by provider negligence.

In consideration of my being allowed to participate in the parasailing  [*2] activities operated and conducted by [Zephyr],

Zorbing: Or how to Kill Yourself for only $10 (somewhat more in the U.S.)

By Doyice Cotten

Two Russian men, out for some adventure, paid the equivalent of $10 each and tried their hands at the new adventure sport, zorbing. Zorbing consists of rolling down a ski slope or grassy hill inside a giant inflatable ball. One of the men, a 27 year-old and father of two, was killed and the other badly injured when the ball veered off course and rolled over a precipice. A complete report comes from Fox News.

A Tale of 3 Waivers

By Doyice Cotten

On a recent trip to North Carolina, I picked up a copy of their waiver from three whitewater rafting companies – Nantahala Outdoor Center, Inc. (NOC), Carolina Outfitters, Inc., and Whitewater LTD Rafting. The waiver of each company is probably adequate to protect the company from liability for injuries resulting from negligence of the operator or from the inherent risks of the operator. Some important points from each waiver will be examined here.

New Jersey Snowboard Waiver Case: A Real Alfred Hitchcock Ending

By Doyice Cotten

I have read well over 1000 sport and recreation waiver cases; occasionally, a strange one comes along. But of all the cases I have examined, Dearnly v. Mountain Creek (2012 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 527) has to be the most bizarre.

First, the sequence of events:

Mrs. Dearnly was eligible for a free season pass at the Vernon Ski Resort as a job benefit.

Nov. 2008: Mr.

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.

Will My Waiver Protect Me When someone has an Ordinary “Slip and Fall?”

By Doyice Cotten

It is well-established that the common law imposes a duty of care on business owners to maintain safe premises for their business invitees (clients, customers, or potential clients).  Visitors to a place of business generally fall into one of three categories and in most states, the duty owed the visitor depends upon the “category” into which the visitor falls.

The three categories are, first, the invitee — one who has an express or implied invitation to enter the business (e.g.,

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.