Inflatable House Risk Management

By Doyice Cotten

Inflatable houses (also known as bounce houses) have been gaining in popularity across the country. Google “inflatable house manufacturers” and you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of manufacturers. You find these houses operated in permanent locations, at festivals, and even available for rental at your home for a birthday party.

All physical activities carry with them the risk of injury to the participant – and inflatable houses are no exception as thousands of participants are injured each year.

Risk Management: Plan Ahead

By Doyice Cotten

I attended a rodeo in Georgia recently and witnessed an event that had considerable potential for injury. The event was called the Calf Scramble. The event consists of a large number of children who upon a signal chase a calf around the arena while attempting to pull a tag off his tail. Any children ages 8 or 9 years old were allowed to compete; then children 10-11 years old were allowed.

Recognizing the possibility of injury and liability,

Risk Management: Learn from the Mistakes of Santa Fe Springs

By Doyice Cotten

What is Risk Management? An expert in adventure law, Reb Gregg says:

The primary purpose of a risk management plan is not the avoidance of legal liability. Rather, it is the maintenance of a quality program; that is, one which deals reasonably and fairly with its clients or students and their families. A program that delivers what it says it will deliver, and does so in the context of reasonable management of the risks,

Three Approaches to Providing an Opportunity to Bargain

By  Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton

Waivers have failed, at least in part, due to the failure of the signer to have an opportunity to bargain over the terms of the contract. (Atkins v. Swimwest Family Fitness, 2005) Several tactics have been suggested to prevent a waiver from being adhesionary or unconscionable due to the lack of opportunity to bargain.

On the issue of bargaining, importantly, the Atkins decision talks in terms of “the form itself must offer the opportunity for bargaining” (para.25).

NY GOL 5-326 and Apartment Building Gyms


Doyice Cotten and Mary Cotten

In Roer v. 150 West End Avenue Owners Corp. (2010 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 6353), Jason Roer brought action seeking damages for personal injuries sustained in the basement gym of the apartment building where he and his wife reside. While exercising on a treadmill in the gym, he was caused to fall and suffer injury when a loose exercise ball was pulled beneath the belt of his treadmill. He had signed a waiver intended to relieve management of liability for negligence contained in his gym membership contract.

Duty and Liability

by Charles R. Gregg

Readers will find that this to be an informative legal liability article. “Reb” Gregg is one of the nation’s top adventure law attorneys. This article originally appeared on Reb’s website.

Q. How do I run a good program without being sued?                                                                             

A. You can’t. People can and may sue you, with or without justification. And even the best program can make mistakes which might provoke the lawsuit.

Programmatic & Financial Risks

By Doyice J. Cotten
This article first appeared in the January, 2007, issue of Fitness Management under the title “What Risk Management Means.”

It is time to take a broader look at the term “risk management.” It is a term everyone uses, but is misused, both in practice and in print. Here are some thoughts I would like to share with you.

Too often, owners and managers of fitness centers consider risk management to be an “advanced safety”

Settling Disputes without Going to Court – Mediation & Arbitration

By Doyice J. Cotten

An agreement to mediate and/or arbitrate any grievance against a provider can be included in the membership agreement or the liability waiver. The following language is one example of language that can be used in the agreement. Another version of this article was published earlier by Fitness Management magazine.


If there is any dispute over $500 between you and California Fitness, both parties agree to submit it to binding arbitration,

Foot Loose: Legal Liability Issues Relating to Barefoot Exercise

Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton
Sports, Fitness & Recreational Team Leader
Kohner, Mann & Kailas, S.C.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Christopher McDougall’s bestselling book Born to Run, and the extensive discussion therein regarding the reported benefits of barefoot running, have helped to ignite a new exercise trend (craze?). Fitness center owners are being asked if members can exercise barefoot, or are just seeing members working out barefoot in areas of the facility where, until recently, no one wanted to do so.