Tag Archives: New York

Overbroad Waivers and Releases

By Doyice Cotten

Waivers and releases sometimes fail because the party that drew up the waiver made the waiver overbroad. Whether overbroad because it attempts to protect too many parties or because it attempts to protect against essentially “any reason whatsoever.” Of course, what is acceptable in a waiver varies from state to state. The following two non-sport waivers or releases serve to illustrate some of the standards existing in New York State.

 Guerra v.

Legal Technicality Causes New York Acrobatics Instructional Waiver to Fail to Protect

By Doyice Cotten

Shana Guins, a 32 years-old woman who stood 5′ 3″ in height and weighed 180 pounds, was injured  and rendered a quadriplegic during an acrobatics class. She was asked to bounce on a mini-trampoline and land with a forward roll. She had been given instruction and had previously performed the task successfully.

Defendant pointed out that she made statements to the medical staff after the accident that she was tired after a previous class and after a night of hard drinking.

Flag Football Waiver Effectiveness Depends on GOL 5-326 Ruling: Was a Fee Paid?

Marc injured his left foot in October, 2015, while playing in a League flag football game (Marc v Middle Country Ctr. Sch. Dist. 2017 NY Slip Op 51678(U)). He jumped to catch a pass, came down on a concealed sprinkler head, and suffered injury. He sued the school district since the league game was played on school district property. Prior to the game, he and the other team members had signed waivers intended to protect the school district from liability.  

Niagara Jet Boat: Was there Gross Negligence?

By Doyice Cotten

This post examines another important issue in the Witkowski v. Niagara Jet Boat Adventures, LLC, 2020 case – Gross Negligence or Ordinary Negligence.

In the jet boat case, the Witkowski’s took a jet boat ride and Sarah Witkowski suffered injury. The reader is referred back to last week’s post for the facts of the case.

The final issue addressed in the case was the allegation that Niagara Jet was grossly negligent.

Niagara Jet Boat Accident Pits Maritime Law vs. New York State Law

By Doyice Cotten

In 2016, Sarah Witkowski and her husband, Scott, were passengers on a jet boat operated by Niagara Jet Adventures, LLC, (“Niagara Jet”) when she suffered injury. They sued alleging negligence or willful and reckless conduct. Niagara Jet moved for summary judgment based on the waiver of liability signed by Sarah (Witkowski v. Niagara Jet Adventures, LLC, 2020).

Upon arrival, they noticed a safety video playing in the background;  Sarah “looked at” and signed a waiver of liability.

Tough Mudder’s Waiver Prohibited by NY GOL § 5-326

By Doyice Cotten

In the June 14 post (Do You Have a “Landmine” in Your Electronic Waiver?), we focused on electronic waivers. The case, Scotti v. Tough Mudder Inc. (2019), however, dealt also with whether the waiver was enforceable in light of New York’s General Obligations Law § 5-326. The law provides:

[e]very covenant, agreement or understanding in or in connection with, or collateral to, any contract, membership application, ticket of admission or similar writing,

New York Law that Can Prevent Enforcement of Waivers GOL § 5-326.

By Mary Cotten

In New York, liability waivers relieving a service provider of liability for its own negligence are generally enforceable. However, sport, recreation, and fitness providers who do business in New York are familiar with one major exception, New York General Obligations Law § 5-326. This statute prohibits waiver enforcement in certain situations; most notably for places of amusement or recreation at which an admission fee is charged.  The law provides:

Every covenant, agreement or understanding in or in connection with,

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,

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,

Court in New York Ski Case Rules that Parental Waivers Allowing Minors to Ski are Valid & Enforceable

By Doyice Cotten

Bryan DiFrancesco’s son was injured while on a ski lift with a ski instructor employed by the defendant Win-Sum Ski Corp [DBA Holiday Valley, Inc.]. The uncle of the boy had signed a waiver of liability and assumption of inherent risks so that the 5 year-old could ski. The boy fell from the lift and sustained severe injuries. The father subsequently filed a suit in federal court against the ski resort on behalf of the boy (DiFrancesco v.