Texas Ski Law
Paz v. Life Time Fitness, Inc., 757 F.Supp.2d 658 United States District Court, Fifth Circuit (2010)
A personal injury suit brought by parents individually and on behalf of their minor daughter. The child was injured in June 2008 while attending a summer day camp at a fitness center in Sugarland, Texas. The defendants have moved for summary judgment on the basis of their affirmative defense of release. The defense is based on a ” participation agreement” the mother signed when she enrolled the child in the program. The agreement includes one section labeled ” ASSUMPTION OF RISK” and another labeled ” RELEASE OF LIABILITY.” The defendants assert that the agreement is an enforceable preinjury waiver and move to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims for premises liability, negligence, and gross negligence. The plaintiffs respond that under Texas law, a parent’s signature on a preinjury release is not enforceable as a waiver of the minor’s rights.
Based on the case law in Texas and in other jurisdictions, this court holds that the preinjury release executed by the minor’s mother in this case is not enforceable to release the defendants from all liability for the minor’s injuries. The record does not suggest that the defendants were operating a nonprofit community or school program. Under the majority approach, the release of a commercial enterprise from liability for the child’s injuries is not enforceable. The motion for summary judgment is denied.
Prior to 2006
In a case involving a Texas resident injured at a New Mexico ski resort, Kervin v. Red River Ski Area, 711 F.Supp. 1383 (E.D.Tex. 1989), the court found sufficient systematic and continuous contacts with Texas to exercise personal jurisdiction over the out of state resort; the resort advertised heavily in Texas by television, radio, and direct mail, and a great number of its customers were shown to be Texas residents. But compare with the similar case of Blanks v. Taos Ski Valley, Inc., 706 F.Supp. 515 (E.D.Tex. 1988) (defendant’s motion for transfer granted).