Friday, July 9, 2021

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Bike Race Exculpatory Release Invalid as to Municipality's Liability


In the case of Degliomini v. City of Philadelphia, No. 5 EAP 2020 (Pa. June 22, 2021) (Majority Op. by Doughterty, J.), Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision reversed a Commonwealth Court decision and ruled that an exculpatory release signed by a participant in a charity bike ride through the City of Philadelphia did not serve to immunize the city for allegedly breaching its duty to repair and maintain the public streets. 

According to the Opinion, this incident arose out of a twenty mile bike ride through the streets of Philadelphia. The injured party allegedly crashed into an unmarked and unbarricaded sink hole and was severely injured as a result.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that, because the release signed by the injured party would allow the city to give itself immunity for the claims presented, the release was found to prohibit what the Tort Claims Act expressly allowed and would impermissibly achieve for the city what Pennsylvania law plainly prohibited.

The Court ruled that the definitive policy to remove the shield of immunity for a municipality’s negligence in the maintenance or repair of dangerous street conditions for which a municipality has proper notice could not be set aside and rendered unenforceable by a contract between individuals. 

As such, the Majority of the Supreme Court found that the release at issue was invalid in this case because it contravened public policy.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of the Majority's decision may click this LINK.  The Dissenting Opinion by Chief Justice Baer can be viewed HERE.


Source: Article: “Pa. Justices: Release Can’t Shield Phila. From Suit Over Cyclist’s Crash,” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (June 29, 2021).

Source of image:  Photo by Quino Al on unsplash.com

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