Earlier last month, an appellate court in Delaware issued an opinion affirming the dismissal of a premises liability lawsuit against a gym, based on the fact that the plaintiffs had signed a valid liability release waiver. In the case, Ketler v. PFPA, the court determined that the release waiver signed by the plaintiffs was permissible under the law and thus was enforceable against the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs were a couple who joined the defendant gym for $10 a month. Before they were able to join, the gym requested that they sign a liability release waiver, acknowledging the risks involved in using the facility and also releasing the gym from liability for any injury that was caused by the negligence of the gym or any of its employees. The Ketlers signed the waiver.
Three years after joining the gym, Mr. Ketler was injured when a cable on the rowing machine he was using snapped. He and his wife filed suit against the gym, arguing that the gym’s negligence in failing to properly maintain the equipment was what caused Mr. Ketler’s injuries.
In a pre-trial motion, the gym asked the court to dismiss the case against it, citing the liability release waiver that the Ketlers signed prior to becoming members. The court analyzed the waiver under state law, and it came to the conclusion that it was valid. Since the waiver was valid, the court determined that the gym could not be held liable because the Ketlers had agreed not to bring a lawsuit based on the gym’s negligence by signing the waiver.
The court considered three factors in determining whether the waiver was valid. First, the court considered whether the document was clear. The court explained that the document signed by the Ketlers was clear in that it expressly mentioned the rights they would be giving up by signing the document. Second, the court considered whether the contract was “unconscionable.” An unconscionable contract is one that is patently unfair due to the difference in bargaining power between the parties. An unconscionable contract is often one that gives the signer little to no choice in signing the contract. Here, since the contract was not presented in an unfair manner, and since the Ketlers could have walked away without signing it, the court determined the contract was not unconscionable. Finally, the court considered whether the agreement was against public policy. Finding no problem with the contract, the court determined it was not against public policy.
Ultimately, the court upheld the liability release waiver and determined that the Ketlers’ premises liability case should be dismissed. Thus, they will not be able to seek compensation for Mr. Ketler’s injury.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Premises Liability Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Even if you did sign a liability release waiver, there may still be an opportunity for you to recover compensation for your injuries. While the document in this case was found to be valid, that will not always be the case, especially when the contract is presented in a “take it or leave it” fashion. To learn more about how you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney.
See Related Blog Posts:
The Reach of Negligence Liability Lawsuits in Georgia, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 20, 2016.
Court Dismisses Case Against Driver Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Show Negligence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 6, 2016.