TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Southwestern Law School

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

California Invalidates Recreational Use Waivers When Gross Negligence Is Alleged

Via Point of Law, an LA Times story covers the California Supreme Court's ruling invalidating waivers in the case of gross negligence.  The opinion is here [PDF].

The story quotes a number of people suggesting that the inability to waive gross negligence will be the death knell for various activities.  Massachusetts, however, is one of the (majority) states that does not permit the waiver of liability for gross negligence, and I've seen no shortage of recreational activities of the sort in question.  Many of my daughter's friends go to a camp run by the local Y with canoeing, lake swimming, archery, and so on; she'll be attending a camp at a local nature sanctuary with lengthy hikes, some boating, and so on.  We've got seemingly successful ski areas and all manner of other recreational activities.

Certainly this decision has the potential to increase costs, and I don't want to suggest that has no importance.  But the concerns sound a bit sky-is-falling-esque to me.  In that regard, it's not unlike the response to a decision by the same Court about the common carrier status of roller coasters; I wrote about that here.


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