I know we don’t do much snow skiing in Florida, but this Pennsylvania case caught my attention.
It shows that even where there is a signed waiver of liability for future events there are some avenues that could defeat the waiver and allow a claim for negligence or other wrongful acts. It is the job of the victim’s attorney, whether in Pennsylvania or Clearwater or Tampa, to search for a possible path to fair compensation for wrongdoing. Waivers or release forms can often be defeated.
A signed liability release form between a skier and the ski resort does not necessarily supersede an oral agreement between a ski lift operator and a skier to stop a lift before she boarded, according to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
The court reversed a Somerset County judge’s grant of summary judgment to the ski resort and ruled that a question of fact remains as to whether there was a breach of an oral agreement and whether it could void the signed release from liability form.
In Chepkevich v. Hidden Valley Resort, the three-judge panel led by Judge Correale F. Stevens also questioned the validity of the release from liability form. Stevens said it was “significant” that the term “negligence” in the form was not defined.
Lori Chepkevich and her husband Jeff argued that even if she voluntarily entered into the contractual agreement of the release, the agreement made with the lift operator to stop the chair trumped the release.