Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Multiple negligent acts do not Equal Gross Negligence in the Pennsylvania Triathlon Case

By Doyice Cotten

We have written before about the distinction between ordinary negligence and gross negligence:

Ordinary negligence is the failure to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would under similar circumstances. It is an unintentional act or failure to act that causes harm to another party.

Gross Negligence is an extreme form of negligence in which one fails to use the care that even a careless person would use.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules that Waiver is Unenforceable in Wrongful Death Triathlon Case

By Doyice Cotten

Notice of Error: The ruling was erroneously reported in this post. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the waiver was enforceable.

Derek Valentino drowned during the swimming leg of the Philadelphia Triathlon in 2010 (Valentino v. Philadelphia Triathlon, LLC., 2019). A wrongful death suit was filed by his children alleging negligence, gross negligence, outrageous acts, and recklessness. The trial court disallowed all except the claim of ordinary negligence.

The defense claimed protection against negligence based on the waiver and release of liability signed by Derek prior to the race.

Gross Negligence Law in Pennsylvania

By Doyice Cotten

 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Tayer v. Camelback Ski Corporation, Inc., 2012) addressed the issue of the

enforceability of waivers when the act in question was recklessness; it ruled that there is a dominant public policy against enforcing waivers seeking to protect reckless behavior. Unfortunately, the court left unaddressed the issue of waivers when the action involved gross negligence.

It was not until 2019 when the question was answered.

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.