Tag Archives: health club

2016 Health Club Cases in New York — No Waivers

By Doyice Cotten

Injuries occurring in health clubs in the State of New York can be problematic for club owners since protection against liability for negligence is ineffective in many circumstances – one being in places of amusement or recreation.  New York statute G.O.L. Sec. 5-326, passed in 1976, deems waivers void as against public policy under specific circumstances.  Specifically, the law provides:

[e]very covenant, agreement or understanding in or in connection with, or collateral to,

Regular Inspections, and Complete Records!! A MUST for Health Clubs . . .

By Doyice Cotten

In Chavez v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. (2015), Stacey Chavez was injured when the back panel of a “FreeMotion” cable crossover machine (“cross trainer”) struck her in the head. She subsequently filed suit. The machine was still in service despite a missing bracket and missing magnetic strips that were to secure the back panel.

24 Hour Fitness claimed it was not liable because she had signed a waiver of liability – a complete defense against negligence claims.

Causes of Personal Trainer Lawsuits — Part II

Part II – When an Injury Occurs

By Doyice Cotten
Regardless of how careful a personal trainer is, injuries will occur. And when the injury occurs, the question becomes “What do you do now?” Do you suddenly slip on your M.D. outfit and make a diagnosis and provide a cure? Do you panic? Or do you already have an emergency action plan and simply follow that plan? The following three cases will help you to know WHAT NOT TO DO!

Club Thought it was Protected Against Negligent Emergency Care

By Doyice Cotten

All health clubs need a sound risk management program aimed at the prevention of injuries. Included in that program should also be the use of a comprehensive, broadly worded liability waiver – just in case the risk management program does not work perfectly. In the following case, Locke v. Life Time Fitness, Inc. (2014), we find that Illinois waiver law requires that a waiver be specific and put the client on notice of the risks faced.

Even Broadly Worded Waivers Are not Without Limitations

By Doyice Cotten

Many, or even most, waivers are written in such a manner as to include seemingly all mishaps that can occur to the client. There are many cases illustrating that the power of a liability waiver is not unlimited.

In a 2015 Illinois case (Hawkins v. Capital Fitness, Inc.), Hawkins signed the following waiver:

 

“MEMBER ACKNOWLEDGES THAT EXERCISE, TANNING AND USE OF THE EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES OF THE COMPANY OR OF THEIR AFFILIATES NATURALLY INVOLVES THE RISK OF INJURY AND MEDICAL DISORDERS,

Moot Waiver and “Open and Obvious” Issue

By Doyice Cotten

This Ohio case involved a slip and fall in a puddle of water when Marie Daher was leaving the swimming pool area going down a hallway to the shower area. She sued Bally’s based on premises liability; she alleged Bally’s was negligent in maintaining its premises (Daher v. Bally’s Total Fitness, 2015). Bally’s claimed that the hazard was open and obvious and that plaintiff had waived liability for negligence.

Problem with Waiver Contained Within Membership Agreement

By Doyice Cotten

In Hinkal v. Gavin Pardoe & Gold’s Gym (2015), Melinda Hinkal was injured while a client of a Pennsylvania health club. She had signed a membership agreement containing a waiver of liability. While working with a personal trainer, she suffered a back injury and filed a negligence claim.

The major issue in the case was whether the waiver language was sufficiently conspicuous to be enforceable.

The Agreement

The Gold’s Gym membership agreement is printed on a single,

A Look at the Instructional Element of New York’s G.O.L. 5-326 Statute Prohibiting Certain Waivers of Liability

By Doyice Cotten

The rulings in three 2014 New York State cases ride on whether the purpose of the business or institution is primarily instructional or primarily recreational.

One-on-One Training Facility

In Kim v. Hanson (2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8187), the plaintiff was engaged in a personal training program under the supervision and instruction of the trainer when he suffered an injury. The injury occurred at a one-on-one training facility; the plaintiff had previously signed a waiver of liability.

Connecticut Court Relies on Reardon Ruling in Declaring Health Club Waiver Violates Public Policy

By Doyice Cotten

A woman was injured while working with a trainer employed by Planet Fitness. The trainer had lifted Butler onto a bosu balance ball and walked away. As she dismounted from the ball, she fell and suffered injury.

She filed suit claiming negligence; Planet Fitness countered with a liability waiver signed by the plaintiff as a defense. Part of the waiver language stated that the signer released Planet Fitness “from any responsibility or liability for any injury or damage to myself,

Pennsylvania Court Rules that Membership Contract Waiver Protects Against Negligence: No Reckless Conduct Found

By Doyice Cotten

 Cornelius Lister was injured when a fight occurred on the Fitness International basketball court (Lister v. Fitness International, LLC, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45954).  He alleged that at least four men attacked him and that at least one of the men was not a member of the club. He claimed that the club was negligent in failing to adhere to club policies that provided that non-members could not use the basketball court.