Recreational Injuries

Liability Releases: Rental Agreements

By on July 2, 2010 - Comments off

Huverserian v. Catalina Scuba Luv, Inc., (Second District, May 26, 2010) —Cal.Rptr. 3d —-, 2010 WL 2089663, 10 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6573

The heirs of a man who died when he ran out of air while scuba diving near Catalina Island filed an action for wrongful death against the business which had rented the dive equipment to the decedent and his son for the day. The defendant moved for summary judgment, asserting that exculpatory language in the rental agreement provided a full defense. In the form rental agreement signed by the decedent, there was a lengthy liability release which was preceded by bolder underlined print which stated: “Equipment rental agreement, liability release and assumption of risk of scuba & snorkel gear for boat dives or multiple day rentals”.

Although it was undisputed that the decedent and his son did not rent the equipment for a boat dive or multiple day rental, the trial court found the exculpatory language provided a complete defense. However, the court of appeal reversed, holding that a person renting equipment for a single day could have reasonably concluded that the language did not apply:

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