ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, May 7, 2018

When gyms are hazardous to your health

It's been a while since I blogged about release of liability clauses in the context of gyms. In case you were missing them, here's a recent one, again out of Pennsylvania, Vinson v. Fitness & Sports Clubs, LLC, No. 2875 EDA 2016

Vinson was a member of an L.A. Fitness gym. While using the gym, she tripped and fell on a wet floor mat and suffered injuries. She sued L.A. Fitness for negligence. L.A. Fitness pointed to its clause in its membership agreement releasing it from liability for, inter alia, "accidental injuries." The trial court granted L.A. Fitness's motion for summary judgment on the basis of this clause, and Vinson appealed, arguing that the clause was invalid as against public policy because her claims involved the maintenance of gym facilities, which was "a vital matter of public health and safety." L.A. Fitness argued that the membership agreement was merely a contract between two private parties and did not implicate public policy. 

The court sided with L.A. Fitness. The court noted that, in other cases, courts had upheld the identical clause in L.A. Fitness's membership agreement. There were no factual differences in Vinson's case that set it apart from these other cases. Vinson joined the gym voluntarily and went to the gym voluntarily. She chose to subject herself to the provisions of the membership agreement. Public policy did not point against its enforcement.

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