CSULA Bally Gym Club Membership Agreement Release of Liability Case Study

Mary v. Bally’s Gym

Determined to make good on her New Year’s Resolution, Mary decided to take a tour of several health clubs in the San Fernando Valley on January 2. Mary’s first stop was at the Bally’s Gym in Woodland Hills. Mary was greeted by Austin, the Bally’s Gym General Manager, who took Mary on a tour of the Gym and then escorted Mary into his office to discuss joining the Gym. Austin told Mary that if she joined, the monthly membership fee would be $100.00 with no initial fee. Mary thanked Austin, but politely explained to Austin that she really wanted to check out other health clubs in the area before making a decision. Frustrated, Austin told Mary that if she left and did not agree sign Bally’s pre-printed form contract in the next 5 minutes, the monthly membership fee would increase to $200 per month and a $1,000 initial fee would be required. Not wanting to miss out on a great deal, Mary reluctantly agreed and quickly signed Bally’s contract without reviewing it. The pre-printed form contract, titled “Bally’s Gym Membership Agreement”, consisted of 40 numbered paragraphs on a double-sided single sheet of paper, covered with all singled-spaced writing on the front and back. Except for the exculpatory clause (which was located near the bottom of the front side of the contract), all of the text in the contract was in 8-point font (HINT: this is 8-point font), with no highlighting and no paragraph headings. The exculpatory clause, however, which was initialed by Mary, appeared in 14-point bold and italicized font and stated the following:

RELEASE OF LIABILITY

Member is aware that participation in a sport or physical exercise may result in accidents or injury, and Member assumes the risk connected with the participation in a sport or exercise and represents that Member is in good health and suffers from no physical impairment. Member specifically agrees that Bally’s Gym shall not be liable for any injury of any kind resulting from Member’s participation in any sport or exercise within the club premises, regardless of how the injury occurred and regardless of whether the injury was a result of Bally’s Gym’s negligence, recklessness, or other alleged misconduct. Member has read, understands, and agrees to this waiver of liability. _____ [Initial Here]

On May 1, Mary was drinking from one of the Gym’s water fountains when she sustained severe burns to her mouth when the water fountain suddenly malfunctioned and sprayed scalding hot water. Mary filed an action against Bally’s Gym for personal injuries.

QUESTION: Should the trial court grant summary judgment in favor of Bally’s Gym based on the above exculpatory clause in the Bally’s Gym Club Membership Agreement? Explore all possible issues and discuss all possible arguments in favor of Bally’s Gym and all possible arguments in favor of Mary. Explain your decision completely.

Please do an IRAC process on this question.

Issue:

Rule:

Application:

Conclusion:

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