Monday, October 22, 2018

Waiver Form Found to Support Summary Judgment in Off-Road Riding Case

In the case of Scott-Moncieff v. Lost Trails, LLC, 3:16-CV-1105 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 29, 2018 Mehalchick, Mag. J.), Federal Middle District Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant on the basis of a Release signed by the Plaintiff prior to engaging in off-road riding activities.  

The court found that the Plaintiff’s Release or Waiver, which was signed before engaging in the off-road riding, was valid and served to preclude the Plaintiff’s cause of action.  

The court found that, since the activities involved were purely private, the Release did not contravene any public policy interest.   The court additionally noted that Releases involved in voluntary sporting an recreational activities are not contracts of adhesion.  

 The court additionally noted that, even though the Plaintiff did not sign a waiver on the date of the injury, the Plaintiff had previously signed a waiver while using the same facility, and that waiver was clearly and unequivocally binding for “all time thereafter.”  

Judge Karoline Mehalchick
U.S. M.D.Pa. M.J.
Judge Mehalchick additionally reaffirmed the general rule of law that a person signing a contract has a duty to  read it and that, absent fraud, failure to read a signed contract is no defense.  

The court additionally found that conspicuousness was not a requirement for the validity of the document that the Plaintiff was actually required to sign.   Judge Mehalchick found that, in any event, the language at issue in the Release was indeed conspicuous in the court’s determination.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck, of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm and the writer of the excellent Drug and Device Law blog for bringing this case to my attention.

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