Tag Archives: Tennessee

Tennessee Supreme Court Establishes New Standards for Waiver Enforcement

By Doyice Cotten

Courts in Tennessee have long held that waivers of liability for negligence are enforceable; in fact, waivers were not disfavored and the bar for enforcement was fairly low. Things may be changing because the Tennessee Supreme Court, in a non-sport case (Copeland v. HealthSouth/Methodist Rehab. Hosp., 2018), reiterated that the public policy in Tennessee has historically favored freedom of contract.  Nevertheless, the court made it emphatically clear that “not all exculpatory agreements should be enforceable,” and established new criteria for enforcement that are now in effect.

Careful Waiver Construction Results in Protection for a Tennessee YMCA

By Doyice Cotten

Sandra Gibson joined the Rutherford County YMCA and signed a liability waiver. At a later date, she was injured when she tripped on an allegedly uneven or cracked sidewalk about 20 feet from the entrance to the YMCA.

She filed suit alleging negligence by the YMCA. The trial court denied the YMCA’s motion for summary judgment. The YMCA appealed claiming protection from the waiver signed by Gibson. The waiver reads:

In consideration of gaining membership and/or being allowed to participate in the activities and programs of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee (“YMCA”) and to use its facilities (whether owned or leased),

Sport Safety Statutes Can Affect the Effectiveness of Liability Waivers

By Doyice Cotten

Most states have enacted at least one of what are sometimes called sport safety acts or shared responsibility statutes (e.g., equine, ski, whitewater rafting) intended to define or limit the liability exposure of operators of selected activities.

Some of these statutes hold the operator to a duty of ordinary care. When they do, a waiver cannot protect the operator in the event of ordinary negligence. Other statutes prescribe a list of specific duties of the operator.