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LEROY F. BROWN v. RACQUETBALL CENTERS (10/05/87)

submitted: October 5, 1987.

LEROY F. BROWN, APPELLANT,
v.
RACQUETBALL CENTERS, INC., T/D/B/A LEHIGH VALLEY RACQUET AND FITNESS CENTERS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order entered May 6, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, Civil Division, at No. 86-C-1252.

COUNSEL

James M. Lillis, Reading, for appellant.

Jeffrey R. Dimmich, Allentown, for appellee.

Brosky, Del Sole and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Del Sole

[ 369 Pa. Super. Page 14]

The Plaintiff/Appellant, Leroy Brown, commenced this action by a complaint filed on April 11, 1986, against Defendant/Appellee Racquetball Centers, Inc., t/d/b/a Lehigh Valley Racquet & Fitness Centers. (Racquetball Centers, Inc., owns and operates several facilities, including the Westend Racquetball Club hereinafter designated as the "Club"). When Brown became a member of the Club on September 27, 1984, he was required to complete and sign a two sided application form, which included the following release:

I, LeRoy F. Brown, voluntarily enter the Westend Racquet Club, . . . to participate in the athletic, physical and social activities therein. I have inspected the premises and know of the risks and dangers involved in such activities as are conducted therein and that unanticipated and unexpected dangers may arise during such activities. I hereby and do assume all risks of injury to my person and property that may be sustained in connection with the stated and associated activities in and about those premises. (Emphasis added).

In consideration of the permission granted to me to enter the premises and participate in the stated activities, I hereby, for myself, my heirs, administrators and assigns, release, remise and discharge the owners, operators and sponsors of the premises and its activities and equipment and their respective servants, agents, officers, and all other participants in those activities of and from all claims, demands, actions and causes of action of any sort,

[ 369 Pa. Super. Page 15]

    for injury sustained to my person and/or property during my presence on the premises and my participation in those activities due to negligence or any other fault.

On May 9, 1985, as Appellant was exiting the shower facilities at the Club, he slipped on the wet tile floor and fell, striking his head and suffering numerous injuries. Appellant claims that this accident was a direct and proximate result of the Appellee's negligent maintenance of the shower room. In its New Matter, the Club contended that the application form signed by Brown, operated to release the Club from liability for Brown's injuries. The Club filed a motion for Summary Judgment which was granted by Order of May 6, 1987. For the reasons expressed herein we reverse.

Generally, an exculpatory clause is valid if:

(a) it does not contravene any policy of the law, that is, if it is not a matter of interest to the public or state; (b) the contract is between persons relating entirely to their own private affairs; (c) each party is a free bargaining agent and the clause is not in effect a mere contract of adhesion whereby one party simply adheres to a document which he ...


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