By Doyice Cotten
Cynthia MacAdams, age 75, signed a YMCA waiver prior to using the sauna. The floor consisted of two separate platforms made of wood slats on top of a concrete base; they could be lifted and pushed apart for cleaning, but were not pushed back together after cleaning. This resulted in a 3 inch gap in the flooring. When she got ready to leave, one of her feet went into the gap causing her to fall onto her right side.
Doyice Cotten summarizes four recent cases involving health clubs. The first three are appellate cases from Minnesota and the fourth is a New Jersey Supreme Court case. These cases re-emphasize the importance of unambiguous waivers. One might say that two of the three Minnesota cases involve gross negligence or willful and wanton actions, but the court did not agree. Actions resulting in injury are not often deemed grossly negligent, reckless, or willful and wanton by the courts. This high threshold further increases the value of well-written liability waivers.