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In the absence of fraud, overreaching or excusable neglect, one who signs an instrument may not avoid the impact of its terms on the ground that he failed to read the instrument before signing it.
Appellant, literate in Greek but not English, enrolled in a swimming class with respondent organization. She signed a release and waiver of liability and indemnity agreement. After a swimming class, she slipped and fell on the wet poolside tile, injuring herself. She filed a personal injury action. Respondent answered and later moved for summary judgment, which was granted on the basis of the release and waiver of liability and indemnity agreement signed by appellant. Appellant sought review.
Was the release and waiver signed by the appellant valid, thereby justifying the grant of summary judgment in favor of the respondent organization?
The court affirmed the judgment on the basis that the release was valid. The court found no cases that voided a release on public interest grounds in the sports and recreational field, and found no reason to invalidate the release on public interest ground, pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 1668, where the public as a whole received a benefit from such waivers. The court found the boldly captioned one-page text of the release to be neither unclear nor ambiguous. Finally, the court stated that appellant made no claim of respondent's fraud or overreaching, or that respondent had reason to suspect that appellant could not or did not read the release when she signed it.