Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Another Look at Club Liability on Slip & Falls

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 or potential clients). Justification of this is that the law recognizes that an owner is in a better position to prevent harm than is the invitee. Courts in most states recognize, however, that participation in sports will result in injuries and grant businesses providing sport, recreation, and fitness activities permission to contract away their liability for injuries resulting from provider negligence through the use of waivers of liability.

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,

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).

Oops! The Injured Client Did Not Sign the Waiver — What Now?

By Doyice Cotten

Tyrone Hill tripped over a yoga mat which had been left on the floor of a basketball court and suffered a fracture of the leg (Hill v. LA Fitness, 2018).  He sued LA Fitness alleging negligence.

LA Fitness moved for summary judgment on the basis of a liability waiver signed by Hill. Pertinent parts of the waiver follow (Bold emphasis added.):

IMPORTANT: RELEASE AND WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNITY.

Pennsylvania Waiver Law

By Doyice Cotten

Courts in few states have given as much guidance regarding liability waivers for negligence as has Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has many requirements for effective waivers, but its courts consistently enforce well-written waivers that follow these guidelines.

Validity of Waivers

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed the validity of waivers of liability for negligence a number of times in the previous century and in this one. It has often specified that an exculpatory clause is valid if:

  • “it does not contravene any policy of the law,

Waiver Not Against Public Policy in Pennsylvania Health Club Slip & Fall Incident

By Doyice Cotten

Dolores Vinson, a member of LA Fitness, slipped and fell when she stepped on a wet mat. She sued the club for negligence in their maintenance (Vinson v. Fitness & Sports Clubs, LLC, 2018). The club claimed protection based on a liability waiver in the membership agreement. The trial court granted the LA Fitness motion for summary judgment.

Pennsylvania Law

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has named three conditions that must be met for a waiver to be enforceable.

Can One Spouse Sign the Waiver for the Other Spouse?

By Doyice Cotten

Often both a husband and a wife attend a sport, recreation, or fitness facility to participate. The business has a requirement that everyone signs a waiver before participating. Is there a problem if one of the couple signs his or her own waiver and then signs the waiver of the spouse?

In the 2017 case, Burns v. Parks (2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 4043), Joseph and Dawn Burns entered Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park to participate.

Wife Signs Waiver for Husband – Is it Enforceable?

By Doyice Cotten

Families often visit recreational facilities and are required to sign waivers of liability in order to participate. Sometimes the father signs on behalf of the wife; sometimes the wife signs on behalf of the husband. The question is “Are these waivers enforceable against the non-signer. Most businesses require the signature of both – which is the obviously best policy. But, if for some reason one signs the other spouse’s name on the waiver, is that waiver enforceable?

Duration of Waivers: A 3 Part Series – Part 2

Part 2

By Doyice Cotten

Nicholas Weinrish was injured while operating a go-kart on the defendant’s track (Weinrich V. Lehigh Valley Grand Prix Inc.,  2015). A piece of plastic covering a guardrail broke and protruded toward the track; plaintiff suffered an injury to his leg when he struck the plastic.

Weinrich had patronized the establishment six months earlier and had signed a waiver of liability at that time.

Provider’s Cavalier Attitude toward Safety and Risk Management Proves Costly

By Doyice Cotten  

Two major problems with liability waivers are that they are sometimes misunderstood and misused by owners or managers of sport businesses. First, some sport managers think that a liability waiver provides total protection against lawsuits for injury. They think they are completely protected against loss. But waivers do not always work! Sometimes there are statutes prohibiting their use (e.g., G.O.L 5-326 in NY prohibiting waivers when there is an entry fee). Sometimes the waiver is poorly written (e.g.,