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Cormier v. Central Mass. Chapter of the Nat'l Safety Council

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

September 14, 1993, Argued ; October 14, 1993, Decided



 [*286]   [**785]  GREANEY, J. We transferred this case to this court on our own motion to decide whether a "motorcycle safety course waiver form" which the defendant required the plaintiff to sign before she could participate in a beginner motorcycle rider safety course given by the defendant barred the plaintiff from any recovery for injuries sustained by her. A judge of the Superior Court concluded that the plaintiff's execution of the form barred her claims and granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. See Mass. R. Civ. P. 56 (b), 365 Mass. 824 [*287]  (1974). We also conclude that the defendant was entitled to summary judgment and affirm the corrected judgment in its favor.

The following are the material facts. On September 10, 1989, the plaintiff sustained personal injuries [***2]  as a result of an accident. On that day, the plaintiff was enrolled in a beginner motorcycle safety course conducted by the defendant. The plaintiff had enrolled in the course in response to an advertisement which indicated that she, a beginner with no experience operating a motorcycle, would be taught how to ride a motorcycle safely by certified instructors. On the first day of the class, September 9, 1989, the plaintiff was presented with, and signed, a "motorcycle safety course waiver form." The form stated that the plaintiff agreed to

"release the Central Mass Safety Council, its members, employees, agents, representatives and those governmental agencies and other organizations affiliated with this course from any and all liability, loss, damage, costs, claims and/or causes of action, including but not limited to all bodily injuries and property damage arising out of participation in the motorcycle training course referred to above, it being specifically understood that said program includes the operation and use by the undersigned participant and others of motorcycles."

The plaintiff was told that she could not participate in the course unless she signed the form. At the [***3]  time she signed the release, the plaintiff believed that she was releasing the defendant from liability for  [**786]  any accidental injury that might occur, but not for any injury caused by the defendant's negligence.

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416 Mass. 286 *; 620 N.E.2d 784 **; 1993 Mass. LEXIS 613 ***


Prior History:  [***1]  Worcester. Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 22, 1990. The case was heard by Robert H. Bohn, J., on a motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.


motorcycle, public policy, waiver form, injuries

Business & Corporate Compliance, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Civil Procedure, Settlements, Releases From Liability, General Overview, Covenants Not to Sue, Interpretation of Releases, Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation, Types of Contracts, Covenants, Releases, Torts, Defenses, Exculpatory Clauses, Construction & Interpretation, Validity, Public Policy Violations, Ambiguities & Mistakes, Transportation Law, Carrier Duties & Liabilities, Duty to Provide Service, Motor Vehicles, Particular Actors, Circumstances, & Liabilities, Motor Carriers, Transportation Law, Definitions