from the Order Entered August 11, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No(s):
BEFORE: BOWES, J., McLAUGHLIN, J., and MUSMANNO, J.
Vinson appeals from the trial court's August 11, 2016
order granting summary judgment in favor of Appellee, Fitness
International, LLC (f/k/a L.A. Fitness International,
LLC)("L.A. Fitness"). We affirm.
Fitness operates fitness clubs/gyms, including the one here
at issue, which is located in Huntingdon Valley,
Pennsylvania. Vinson became a member of this fitness facility
on July 4, 2012, when she signed a three-page membership
agreement ("Membership Agreement"). The first page
of the Membership Agreement states, inter alia, that
L.A. Fitness and the undersigned buyer agree "that you
are purchasing a membership from L.A. Fitness according to
the terms on both pages of this Membership Agreement and the
Membership Policies and Club Rules and Regulations . . .
." Membership Agreement at 1. Vinson signed the
Membership Agreement at the bottom of page 1.
second page of the Member Agreement contains an exculpatory
provision ("Exculpatory Clause") that is printed
enclosed in a black box. The Exculpatory Clause reads as
IMPORTANT: RELEASE AND WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND
INDEMNITY. You hereby acknowledge and agree that use
by Member and/or by Members minor children of L.A.
Fitness' facilities, services, equipment or premises,
involves risks of injury to persons and property, including
those described below, and Member assumes full responsibility
for such risks. In consideration of Member and Member's
minor children being permitted to enter any facility of L.A.
Fitness (a "Club") for any purpose including, but
not limited to, observation, use of facilities, services or
equipment, or participation in any way, Member agrees to the
following: Member hereby releases and holds L.A. Fitness, its
directors, officers, employees, and agents harmless from all
liability to Member, Member's children and Member's
personal representatives, assigns, heirs, and next of kin for
any loss or damage, and forever gives up any claim or demands
therefore, on account of injury to Member's person or
property, including injury leading to the death of Member,
whether caused by the active or passive negligence of L.A.
Fitness or otherwise, to the fullest extent permitted by law,
while Member or Member's minor children are in, upon, or
about L.A. Fitness premises or using any L.A. Fitness
facilities, services or equipment. Member also hereby agrees
to indemnify L.A. Fitness from any loss, liability, damage or
cost L.A. Fitness may incur due to the presence of Member or
Member's children in, upon or about the L.A. Fitness
premises or in any way observing or using any facilities or
equipment of L.A. Fitness whether caused by the negligence of
Member(s) or otherwise. You represent (a) that Member and
Member's minor children are in good physical condition
and have no disability, illness, or other condition that
could prevent Member(s) from exercising without injury or
impairment of health, and (b) that Member has consulted a
physician concerning an exercise program that will not risk
injury to Member or impairment of Members health. Such risk
of injury includes (but is not limited to): injuries arising
from use by Member or others of exercise equipment and
machines; injuries arising from participation by Member or
others in supervised or unsupervised activities or programs
at a Club; injuries and medical disorders arising from
exercising at a Club such as heart attacks, strokes, heat
stress, sprains, broken bones, and torn muscles and
ligaments, among others; and accidental injuries
occurring anywhere in Club dressing rooms, showers and other
facilities. Member further expressly agrees that the
foregoing release, waiver and indemnity agreement is intended
to be as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the law of
the State of Pennsylvania and that if any portion thereof is
held invalid, it is agreed that the balance shall,
notwithstanding, continue in full force and effect. Member
has read this release and waiver of liability and indemnity
clause, and agrees that no oral representations, statements
or inducement apart from this Agreement have been made.
Membership Agreement at 2 (emphasis added).
to her deposition testimony, Vinson acknowledges signing the
Membership Agreement, although she does not recall reading
the document at the time she signed it. Vinson Deposition
Testimony, 5/10/16, at 71-73. Directly above the signature
line of the Membership Agreement, the following language is
provided: "By signing this Agreement, Buyer acknowledges
that Buyer . . . has received a filled-in and completed copy
of the Agreement has read and understands the entire
agreement including but not limited to . . . the Release and
Waiver of Liability and Indemnity . . . ." Membership
Agreement at 1.
28, 2015, Vinson filed a complaint against L.A. Fitness,
sounding in negligence. Specifically, Vinson claimed that on
October 1, 2013, she tripped and fell on a wet floor mat
causing her to suffer serious and permanent personal
injuries. Vinson's Complaint at 2. In short, Vinson
averred that L.A. Fitness's negligence regarding the
maintenance of the premises caused the conditions that
directly resulted in her injuries. Id. 2-4. L.A.
Fitness filed an Answer and New Matter on September 3, 2015,
wherein it asserted that Vinson's claim was barred by the
Exculpatory Clause. Vinson countered by filing a Reply on
October 1, 2015.
Fitness filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on June 30, 2016,
claiming that (1) Vinson could not demonstrate that L.A.
Fitness created or had notice of the wet mat; (2) Vinson had
not provided the requisite expert to establish the applicable
standard of care; and (3) the Exculpatory Clause precluded
recovery. The trial court granted L.A. Fitness's motion
on August 11, 2016, without further explanation. Vinson filed
a court-ordered Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) Statement of Matters
Complained of on Appeal and, in a Rule 1925(a) Opinion, the
trial court explained that it granted L.A. Fitness's
Motion for Summary Judgment on the basis of the Exculpatory
Clause. The instant timely appeal followed.
raises two issues for our review:
1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion and
otherwise committed an error of law when it improperly
granted [L.A. Fitness's] Motion for Summary Judgment?
2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion and
otherwise committed an error of law when it improperly
granted [L.A. Fitness's] Motion for Summary Judgment
where there exists a genuine dispute as to material fact as
to whether important public policy issues ...