Jan 28 2014

Courtroom Success 2014-3: Worcester Partner Joe Seckler and Associate John Babcock

Worcester Partner Joe Seckler and Associate John Babcock obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client, a recreational sports park, in a premises liability action in Essex Superior Court.  In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that she slipped and fell on a patch of ice in the parking lot while walking back to her car after a day of snow tubing with her family.  Prior to entering the park, the plaintiff signed a release in favor of our client.  The release covered claims for injuries “arising out of or related to the EVENTS…including but not limited to: soccer, lacrosse, snow tubing, [snow rafting], snowboarding, skiing, summer tubing and OGOing.”  We moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff released the defendant from liability for her accident. The plaintiff opposed our motion and argued that her walk across the parking lot after exiting the park was not defined as an “EVENT” under the release.  Justice Richard E. Welch III allowed our motion, holding that “[a]s a matter of contract interpretation, returning to one’s car (parked on the defendant’s land) after participating in the “event” is an activity “related” to that event.  When participating in a snow sport, it is reasonable to infer that both parties understood (when the release was executed) that returning to the car in snowy conditions was related to snow tubing.”

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