8/23/2009Sometimes the courts get it right - and for the right reason.
In Nutley v. Skydive the Ranch, the plaintiff suffered personal injuries when he was forced to rely on his secondary chute rather than on his primary parachute which had failed. In their motion to dismiss the complaint, the Skydive ranch pointed out to the Court that before he embarked on the skydive, the plaintiff had signed an agreement in which he expressly waived his right to sue for the ranch's negligence.
But that's not why the appellate court dismissed the case: under New York law, any contract or agreement between the owner or operator of a facility and a paying customer stating that the owner may not be held liable for its negligence is void and unenforceable (see NY General Obligations Law 5-326). Instead, the appellate court noted that since the plaintiff's claimed injury resulted from a risk that was open and obvious, and inherently part of, the activity of skydiving, the plaintiff voluntarily assumed this risk, and therefore the defendant Skydive ranch could not be held liable for his injuries.
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