SW Legal studies in Business

Ski Pass Liability Waiver Enforceable
Description Appeals court held that a skier could not sue the ski resort for negligence when he suffered an injury when he hit a man-made object while skiing. The liability release he signed was enforceable since it did not violate public policy and was conspicuous on the contract.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Liability Release; Conspicuous; Public Policy
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Chauvlier was skiing at Alpental ski resort. When going down a trail, he said that he ran into unmarked bumps and jumps and half-pipe walls that had been built by the ski area for use in a snowboard competition. He contended that he could not see the man-made structures until he came upon them, at which point he hit them and was injured. He sued the ski area owner for negligence for not putting up warning signs. The owner claimed it had no duty to Chauvlier because he signed the liability release form when he bought a ski pass. The form stated that there was a risk of colliding with man-made structures and also had a promise that he would not sue the facility owner for any injury incurred. Chauvier contended that the liability release was not pointed out to him, nor was the warning conspicuous or clear and that it violated public policy to have such a release as part of a sale. The district court granted summary judgment to the ski area owner. Chauvlier appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Liability release forms are generally enforceable, subject to three exceptions: 1) inconspicuous releases are unenforceable; 2) releases cannot limit liability for acts falling greatly below the standard established by law for protection of others, and 3) releases must not violate public policy. The release in this case was clear and some of the release was offset in capital letters in the agreement, so it was conspicuous. Chauvier was not rushed to sign the contract. The release did not violate public policy because the matter involved was not an important public service nor was this a contract of adhesion, where there was unequal bargaining power.

Citation Chauvlier v. Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc., 35 P.3d 383 (Ct. App., Wash., 2001)

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