Millions of Dollars in Verdicts and Settlements

California Health Club Prevails on Appeal in Shower Slip and Fall Case

September 13, 2017


San Diego slip and fall lawyers know some of the most common sorts of documents that enter into play in personal injury cases are various forms of contracts. These documents are things like car insurance policies, employment contracts, or one or another forms of liability waivers. In the case of premises liability claims, for example, people who have paid to attend a sporting event, amusement park, or county fair may have assumed the risk of any potential injury that may occur while on site. In many cases, the terms of this agreement may appear on the back of a ticket purchased, or in some cases they involve actually signing a document.

In one recent case, an older gentleman signed one such liability waiver in the course of joining a fitness club.

In the case, the 60-something plaintiff signed various forms when becoming a member of the defendant gym. The membership agreement included a section entitled “IMPORTANT: RELEASE AND WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNITY,” which stated that the undersigned waived any and all potential for injury, “whether caused by the active or passive negligence” of the defendant club.

On the day of the injury that prompted the lawsuit, the plaintiff was proceeding to take a shower and slipped and fell hard onto the ground, resulting in his humerus snapping in half, requiring subsequent surgery and necessitating screws. The plaintiff relayed various evidence in support of his prior conversations with employees of the club, telling them that he had fallen on prior occasions, and his belief that the lack of any handrails, shower mats, or friction strips in the room created a dangerous condition.

The plaintiff alleged gross negligence on the ground that he had put the defendant on notice during the prior occasions when he had fallen. Defense counsel argued that the plaintiff did not produce evidence that anyone with the authority to act on the complaints had received the information, and without that sort of factual information, the plaintiff could not support a claim of gross negligence. Defense counsel was thus successful in urging the trial court to strike the claim for gross negligence on the basis that the information necessary to support the claim was not presented, and the trial court stated that the plaintiff further did not present case law supporting the premise that the lack of such evidence could still rise to a finding of gross negligence.

Both parties conceded that the release contained within the membership agreement was a complete defense to an ordinary negligence claim. Furthermore, after an extensive discussion of the relevant case law, the Court of Appeal found that the plaintiff had failed to meet the burden of demonstrating gross negligence when he decided not to take leave to amend his complaint in order to include evidence of the alleged inaction of the defendant to cure the allegedly unsafe condition.

Thus, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court’s granting of summary judgment was proper, and the decision was affirmed.

Zev Rubinstein is a slip and fall lawyer who has been fighting for the rights of injured victims in the San Diego, San Marcos, and Oceanside areas for 25 years. As a seasoned premises liability lawyer in Vista, he understands the complex laws that apply to these cases, and he can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the Rubinstein Law Group today to schedule your free consultation.

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