What Makes a Waiver Adhesionary – and consequently unenforceable?

 

By Mary Cotten

A waiver of liability in the sport, recreation, or fitness industry can usually be accurately described as a standardized agreement printed on the company’s form, offering little or no opportunity for negotiation or free and voluntary bargaining by the signer. Unfortunately, this is also the definition of a contract of adhesion. Worse news yet, adhesionary contracts in most states are against public policy and unenforceable. But, for the good news, courts are consistent in holding that sport,

Enforcement of Health Club Waivers of Liability Challenged by New Jersey Supreme Court Judge

By Doyice Cotten

Courts in most states will enforce well-written liability waivers signed willingly by adults. Nevertheless, many people argue strongly against this protection for service providers. This post presents good arguments by one judge opposed to health club immunity from liability granted by such waivers.

Current New Jersey case law supports the enforcement of health club liability waivers. In fact, the Supreme Court of New Jersey recently determined to accept a stipulation for dismissal following a settlement of the matter by the parties.

Four Common Waiver Formats: Which is Best for Your Business?

By Doyice Cotten

Thousands of agreements which waive the liability of sport, recreation, and fitness providers are utilized each day; but not all waivers look alike. There are at least four commonly used formats for liability protection. Each format has advantages and disadvantages — consequently, the formats are not equally effective. In this post, I compare the formats so that the reader may decide if he or she is using the best possible type of liability protection.

Common Formats

The common formats are 1) the stand-alone waiver of liability,

Waiver Fails to Protect Sports club in a Trip and Fall Case

By JoAnn M. Eickhoff-Shemek, Ph.D., FACSM

Dr. Eickhoff-Shemek is Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida (USF) and is President of the Fitness Law Academy, LLC (www.fitnesslawacademy.com). This post originally appeared in the Fitness Law Academy Newsletter, Vol 1, Issue 4 (October, 2018). You may subscribe to the quarterly newsletter free of charge at www.fitnesslawacademy.com.

Case Brief: Crossing-Lyons v. Towns Sport International,

Evaluating a Waiver

By Doyice Cotten

 

In waiver cases, a court has to determine if the liability waiver does, indeed, protect the defendant from liability for negligence. In this post, we will examine a recent waiver addressed in Garvine v. Maryland, (2018) to see how courts address this task and give the reader a little insight into the sometimes complicated process of evaluation.

 

Waiver in Question

Oxford Feed &

Duration of a Waiver at Issue in a Pennsylvania ATV Case

By Doyice Cotten

This author has frequently written about the duration of liability waivers. In a three-part series in 2017, posts addressed a Virgin Islands waiver written intending a one-year duration where the injury occurred after the one-year period – the court ruled it to be unenforceable; another waiver case involved a waiver which did not specify a duration and the Pennsylvania court ruled such a waiver unenforceable; and a third waiver case examined a waiver which did not state a duration – the Massachusetts court held the duration of a contract does not extend forever but only for a reasonable time (which is up to the court to determine).

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.,

Waiver enforced under Maritime Law in Puerto Rico Jet ski Case

By Doyice Cotten

In the post last week, we looked at a waiver in a Puerto Rico jet ski case (Morgan v. Water Toy Shop, Inc., 2018). The Puerto Rican court examined the case in which the plaintiff was seriously injured in a collision with another party; the plaintiff sued the shop that rented the jet ski to the party who caused the accident. Since the incident occurred in navigable waters, the suit fell under maritime law.

Puerto Rico Jet Ski Waiver Emphasizes the Inherent Risks of the Activity

By Doyice Cotten  

The primary purpose of a liability waiver is to protect the entity from liability for injuries resulting from the negligence of the entity and its employees. A secondary function of the waiver is to help provide protection from liability for injuries resulting from the inherent risks of the activity. Technically, the provider is not usually liable for injuries associated with the inherent risks – provided the injured party was familiar with those inherent risks. The listing of inherent risks in the waiver can provide evidence that the participant was aware of the inherent risks;