Is a Health Club Waiver and Release Clause Enforceable?
I have to admit it, I needed to start going back to the gym on a regular basis. When I was younger, I used to be quite a gym enthusiast. I threw the javelin in college and was training daily. After my javelin career ended, I started doing some amateur bodybuilding and powerlifting. I was in very good shape, until . . . law school. I will save that story for another day. Needless to say, I decided to go back to the gym. Of course, I did not go back in January for fear of being labeled a New Year's Resolution guy. Nope, I snuck in under the radar by going back in February!
Ok, let's get to the point. While I was in the gym the other day I overheard a member arguing with one of the staff about having to sign a waiver. So, what's the deal with gym waivers? Let's take a look. Is a Health Club Waiver and Release Clause Enforceable?
The short answer is that courts will generally uphold the waiver and release agreement depending upon certain conditions such as the voluntary nature of the participant's actions and whether or not the waiver clause was clear and unambiguous.
Appellate Courts have upheld a waiver and release clause in fitness clubs' membership agreements which are aimed at preventing an injured member from seeking any damages in court. In one Illinois case, the gym member was seriously injured while using the machine at the club. As a result of the injuries, the member became a quadriplegic.
In the Illinois case, the member who filed suit against the health club alleged that the club was negligent in its supervision of members. Specifically, the member/plaintiff alleged that the health club failed to properly instruct the members on how to use particular pieces of equipment.
The health club defended the case by arguing that the plaintiff signed a waiver and release agreement which barred him from recovering damages for his personal injuries.
At the trial level, the court dismissed the plaintiff's lawsuit on the grounds that he had signed a waiver and release agreement. The plaintiff appealed the decision on the grounds that the clause was invalid because it was confusing and did not contain clear language. Additionally, the plaintiff argued that the health club never explained the impact of the waiver and release agreement to him at the time he signed the agreement.
When you sign a health club or any other agreement that contains a waiver and release clause you should be aware that the clause may be enforceable and prevent you from recovering damages if you are injured. In the case discussed above the plaintiff suffered life-changing and serious injuries. Despite his disastrous injuries the court still upheld the waiver and release clause. release clause was clear and unambiguous.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU
When you sign a health club or any other agreement that contains a waiver and release clause you should be aware that the clause may be enforceable and prevent you from recovering damages if you are injured. In the case discussed above the plaintiff suffered life-changing and serious injuries. Despite his disastrous injuries the court still upheld the waiver and release clause.
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