Court Dismisses Premises Liability Claim Based on Validly Signed Waiver

Earlier last month, an appellate court in Delaware heard an appeal of a personal injury case filed by a man who was injured while working out at a Planet Fitness facility. In the case, Ketler v. PFPA, LLC, the court ultimately affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case, based on a valid waiver of liability form signed by the plaintiff prior to incurring his injuries.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the case, a man and his wife, became members of Planet Fitness back in 2010. As a precursor to their membership, the facility asked that the couple sign a membership agreement. Included in the membership agreement was a clause releasing Planet Fitness from liability for any injuries that may occur while using the company’s equipment. This included injuries that were caused by the company’s own negligence, as well as the negligence of its employees.

Fast forward to 2013, when a cable on the rowing machine that the husband was using snapped, causing him injuries as a result. Both the husband and the wife then filed a lawsuit against Planet Fitness, claiming that the husband’s injuries were due to the negligence of Planet Fitness, specifically for not properly maintaining the exercise equipment in a safe and responsible way.

At trial, Planet Fitness asked the court to dismiss the premises liability case, based on the release of liability waiver that was contained in the membership agreement. The court reviewed the release of liability and ultimately determined that it was valid and that it acted to prevent the plaintiffs from suing Planet Fitness because by signing the waiver they agreed to waive their right to bring this type of lawsuit.

On Appeal, the Decision is Affirmed

The appellate court agreed with the decision of the trial court and affirmed the dismissal of the case. The court explained that, while not every waiver or release will be valid, there was no evidence that this one was unclear, unfair, or against public policy in any way. Thus, the plaintiffs will not be permitted to recover compensation for the husband’s injuries.

Waivers of Release in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

In Maryland and Washington, D.C., these types of waivers are generally permissible and enforceable. However, under some circumstances, a court may invalidate a waiver if it is presented in an unfair manner, attempts to absolve the facility of more than just negligent behavior, or is in some other way against the public interest. If you have been injured after signing a waiver of liability, do not assume that it is valid. Contact an attorney to discuss your situation.

Have You Been Injured After Signing a Release of Liability?

As noted above, not all releases of liability will be upheld in Maryland and D.C. courts. Thus, if you have been injured while using the equipment of a gym, or while bungee-jumping or sky-diving or engaging in any other form of pay-to-play activity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help you cover the costs of your injuries. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney today. We have offices in the Maryland and D.C. areas.

More Blog Posts:

Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case Against Federal Government Allowed To Proceed, Despite Immunity Claims, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2016

Affected Families Push the Supreme Court to Reconsider “Feres” Doctrine, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2016

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