“Both the contract and a waiver for a fitness center explicitly absolve it of all responsibility for anything that goes wrong on its premises. [See exact text below.] I asked: What if one of your machines malfunctions and someone gets hurt? The owner replied that, in such a case, the contract and waiver wouldn’t stand up in court anyway, so I would be able to sue if I wanted.
My question: Is she correct? Does it makes sense for me to sign such a contract? The kicker here is that this place is uniquely suited to my wife, who has had a stroke. We both desperately want her to go to this fitness center.
I suppose my other question is: Why are all these other people willing to sign away any responsibility on the fitness center’s part? Are they foolish, or am I crazy?
The exact text:
In the waiver, one agrees to “release, waive and discharge, and to indemnify and hold harmless, [center] and its employees and affiliates from all loss, expense and liability for injury, death or damages to the person or property of the undersigned while using [center]’s facilities.”
In the contract, one agrees that “I am hereby waiving and releasing [center] from and against any and all claims, costs, liabilities, and injuries incurred while on these premises.”
Waiver clauses commonly appear in contracts, and can be upheld. You are at your option to not sign the contract, and not use the facility. No matter how good the waiver clause, the center cannot get you to release all liability from the criminal or outrageously negligent acts of its employees, or intentional torts committed by employees in the course and scope of their duties. i.e. if they failed to adhere to a machine’s maintenance schedule or something. In the situation you described – failure of a machine – you likely would have recourse against the manufacturer or against the gym if they knew or should have known of the dangerous defect.
However, they are saying that you cannot sue them for your own negligent acts. If you do not like the clause, try to line it out. If you are still uncomfortable with it, don’t sign it.