Tag Archives: adventure sport

We Know Delta and Greyhound are Common Carriers … But is a Zipline a Common Carrier in Illinois?

By Doyice Cotten

April Dodge was a paying customer of Grafton Zipline Adventures when the braking system failed causing April to collide with a tree and suffer injury. She sued alleging that Grafton was negligent. Grafton claimed protection from the liability waiver signed by April prior to participation to which the plaintiff asserted that the waiver was unenforceable because Grafton is a common carrier and cannot exempt itself from liability for its negligence (Dodge v. Grafton Zipline Adventures,

Liability Waivers are Prohibited in Louisiana! But Should Providers Continue to Use Them?

By Doyice Cotten
Brenda Fecke, a senior at LSU, fell while bouldering at the LSU Recreation Center indoor rock climbing wall facility. The fall resulted in an ankle injury; this was followed by a lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of LSU (Fecke v. The Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, 2015 La. App. LEXIS 1357). Among the many allegations was that the university gave minimal instructions and failed to determine her skill level prior to allowing participation.

Strengthen Assumption of Risk: Documentation of Notification of Warnings

I recently received an email from James Hellwege regarding risk management efforts of a provider in relation to the assumption of risks by the participants. It is encouraging when providers  take positive steps 1) to inform participants of the risks of an activity and 2) to document their actions with accuracy. The note is presented in its entirety below. DJC

By James Hellwege

I recently came across this blog entry of yours regarding pre-activity instruction by vendors in relation to assumption of the risk by participants:

Some thoughts for your consideration on this topic.

Hawaii Case Illustrates Why Admiralty Law Can be Important to Recreation Providers

By Doyice Cotten
Mark Strickert took his wife and two children on a snorkeling trip. He and his wife signed waivers on behalf of themselves and their children. The trip consisted of six scuba divers and six snorkelers (including the four Strickerts), two crew members and Mr. Neal (the party in charge) who stayed on the boat while the others entered the water. At some point the weather worsened causing extremely high winds and large waves. Neal signaled the snorkelers and divers to return to the boat.

U.S. District Court Case Clouds Vermont Waiver Law

By Doyice Cotten

Over the past 20 years four Vermont Supreme Court rulings have made Vermont waiver law relatively clear. A recent U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont ruling (Littlejohn v. Timberquest Park at Magic, LLC, 2015) seems to have muddled the issue. It seems that occasionally federal courts get it wrong in predicting how a state supreme court would rule.

The Vermont Supreme Court (Dalury v.

For Protection under Assumption of Risk: Injured Party MUST Have Known the Risks!!!

By Doyice Cotten
One of the most commonly used defenses when someone is injured in a recreational activity is that the participant assumed the risks. While the law varies somewhat from state to state, it is generally an effective defense when the provider has not been negligent.

In a recent Pennsylvania case M.D. v. Ski Shawnee, Inc. (2015), a nine year old novice skier on an elementary school ski trip was injured when she collided with a snowmaking machine on the slope.

Hawaii Statute Prohibiting Waivers Enforced in Scuba Case

By Doyice Cotten

In a recent ruling, the U.S. District Court of Hawaii ruled that a liability waiver could not protect a scuba diving business from liability for negligence (Hambrook v. Smith, 2015). William Savage died while scuba diving with Hawaiian Scuba Shack; his wife, Sandra Hambrook filed suit against the company as well as PADI.

Savage had signed a liability waiver which the plaintiff claimed was unenforceable against public policy because it violated a state statute prohibiting liability waivers in recreational activities.

Sport Safety Statutes Can Affect the Effectiveness of Liability Waivers

By Doyice Cotten

Most states have enacted at least one of what are sometimes called sport safety acts or shared responsibility statutes (e.g., equine, ski, whitewater rafting) intended to define or limit the liability exposure of operators of selected activities.

Some of these statutes hold the operator to a duty of ordinary care. When they do, a waiver cannot protect the operator in the event of ordinary negligence. Other statutes prescribe a list of specific duties of the operator.

Waiver Clearly Specifying Risks Enforced in NY Case

By Doyice Cotten

Last Week’s Post (Admiralty Law Trumps GOL 5-326 Statute in NY Jet Boat Waiver Case) focused on fact that federal admiralty law supersede  state law (including New York’s G.O.L. 5-326. We look at this case again (Brozyna v. Niagara Gorge Jetboating, LTD., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111546) focusing this time on the language of the waiver and other risk management steps taken by the provider.Courts in many states require that the waiver language warn the signer of the inherent risks of the activity involved.

Connecticut Wall Climbing Waiver Fails

By Doyice Cotten

In a 2014 case, a Connecticut Superior Court failed to enforce a pre-injury waiver signed by the plaintiff (Lecuna v. Carabiners Fairfield, LLC, 2014 Conn. Super LEXIS 2610). Plaintiff fell from the facility while “bouldering” and sued claiming negligence.
Among the allegations were:

• Climbing hold attachment turned or came loose.
• Attendant “spotter” had walked away and was not present to break the fall.