Naser v Lakeridge Athletic Club (2014) H&FLR 2014-38

Zahra Naser v Lakeridge Athletic Club (2014) H&FLR 2014-38

Court of Appeal of California (First Appellate District)

27 June 2014

Coram: Jones PJ, Bruiniers and Simons JJ.

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Michael R Loewen and Noah Freeman Schwinghammer (of Law Office of Michael R Loewen)
Appearing for the Defendant: Joseph J. Minioza, Jason W Mauck and Gregory A. Mase (of Ericksen Arbuthnot)

Catchwords: California – health clubs – release – waiver – locker room – wet floor – slip – injury

Facts: The plaintiff was a member of the Lakeridge Athletic Club in El Sobrante. On joining in February 2004 she signed a membership agreement which included a release waiving any claim against the club in respect of injury caused by its negligence. The release relevantly stated –

The Member is fully aware of the potential dangers incidental in engaging in the activity and instruction of exercise activities (such as weight lifting, bodybuilding, aerobic dancing, and any other exercise activity). In consideration of permitting this member to join this Club or to participate in exercise activity and/or instruction at these premises (including the entire indoor area and outdoor parking area), the Member agrees to voluntarily assume all liability and to indemnify [Lakeridge] for any death, injury, or damage suffered by any person, including the Member, arising out of the Member’s activities at [Lakeridge] even if death, injury, or damage is caused by [Lakeridge’s] own passive or active negligence.

On 26 January 2009 the plaintiff attended the club and used the facilities. She returned to the locker room and while there she slipped in a puddle of water, suffering a knee injury.

The plaintiff brought proceedings against the club in negligence. The Defendant sought summary dismissal of the claim on the basis that the plaintiff, by signing the membership agreement, had voluntarily assumed all liability for injury. The plaintiff responded (inter alia) that the release did not apply because her injury was not exercise-related. The application for dismissal was granted: Naser v Lakeridge Athletic Club (Superior Court of Contra Costa County, Austin J, 21 February 2013, unreported). The plaintiff appealed.

Held: Dismissing the appeal, that –

1. The release expressly provided that it was in “consideration of permitting the member to join this Club or to participate in exercise activity and/or instruction at these premises (including the entire indoor area and outdoor parking area)”. The plaintiff’s use of the locker room was covered by the release.

2. In this case, it was proper to find that slipping on a wet locker room floor was reasonably related to the purposes of the release. Semble, slipping in a wet locker room is a hazard known to relate to use of a health club for exercise.

Leon v Family Fitness Center (#107), Inc (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 1227, considered.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.