Archive for the ‘Sky Diving’ Category

Into the Void – Claims of Sixteen-Year-Old Skydiver Not Barred by Waiver and Release (OK)

January 4, 2016

Wethington v. Swainson (Oklahoma)

Accompanied by her parents, a sixteen-year-old girl went to the defendant to learn how to skydive.  As part of the registration process, the girl signed a “Registration Form and Medical Statement” that included a disclaimer near the bottom referring to the serious risks associated with skydiving.  The girl participated in an instruction course, which included fours hours of training.  In connection with the instruction course, the girl and her parents signed a detailed “Agreement, Release of Liability and Acknowledgement of Risk” form, which included numerous exculpatory provisions (the “Release”).  The Release also included a “Ratification by Parent/Guardian,” which was signed by both of the girl’s parents.  When she jumped from the plane, the girl’s parachute malfunctioned, causing her to spin rapidly toward the ground.  She landed at a high speed and impact, causing her to sustain serious injury.

The girl and her parents sued the defendant, and the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the Release barred the plaintiffs’ claims.  The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part.  Reviewing Oklahoma law and the terms of the Release, the Court concluded that “the Release states in clear and unequivocal terms the intention of the parties to excuse Defendant from liability caused by Defendant’s negligence, equipment failure, or inadequate instruction.”  However, the Court acknowledged that the minor had voided the Release due to her status as a minor, and the Court noted that “[u]nder Oklahoma law, a minor’s right to rescind a contract is unaffected by the approval or consent of a parent.”


Experienced Sky Diver Killed in Mid-Air Collision

May 4, 2011

Los Angeles Times (California)

Two men were killed as the result of a mid-air collision while sky diving in Perris, California on March 31.  The collision apparently rendered the men unable to deploy their parachutes and they both fell to their deaths.  One of the decedents is a veteran sky diver with over 17,000 jumps to his name.

Should this case proceed to litigation, it would appear to be ripe for the application of the defense of primary assumption of the risk, especially as to the instructor, whom had extensive sky diving experience and undoubtedly voluntarily assumed the risks inherent in sky diving, the most obvious of which is injury or death due to this sort of incident.

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