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The validity of a contention that a release was tantamount to an adhesion contract, as it pertains to exculpatory clauses between private parties, depends on whether there exists a substantial disparity of the parties' bargaining positions, and whether the agreement is violative of public policy or based on the social relationship of the parties.
The amateur stock-car driver was injured when a portion of owner's upper embankment of the racetrack collapsed. Prior to racing, the racecar driver signed a waiver document in which he agreed not to hold the owner liable for any injuries sustained while using the racing surface. The river brought a personal injury action against the owner. The owner's motion for summary judgment was granted and the driver appealed. The court ultimately granted leave to hear the driver's appeal. On appeal, the driver argued, among other things, that the exculpatory clause was invalid and that the release was an adhesion contract.
Were the exculpatory clause clauses in contracts with amateur race drivers valid?
The court affirmed the judgment. It dismissed the driver's first argument because exculpatory clauses in contracts with amateur race drivers had previously been found to be valid and not against public policy. Further, the driver's claim that the release was tantamount to an adhesion contract was meritless because there was no showing of a substantial disparity of the parties' bargaining positions nor was the driver under any economic or any other compulsion to sign the release to engage in amateur auto racing.