Jones v. Dressel

623 P.2d 370 (Colo. 1981)

 

RULE:

In determining whether an exculpatory agreement is valid, there are four factors which a court must consider: (1) the existence of a duty to the public; (2) the nature of the service performed; (3) whether the contract was fairly entered into; and (4) whether the intention of the parties is expressed in clear and unambiguous language.

FACTS:

The customer, who was then 17 years old signed up with the company for recreational skydiving facilities. The contract contained an exculpatory agreement for injuries sustained while in the aircraft or while engaged in the skydiving activities. The customer suffered an injury in a plane crash. This happened when the customer was already 18. He then filed suit against the company who moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted partial summary judgment based upon the execution of an exculpatory agreement which the court held insulated the defendants from liability for simple negligence involving the crash of an airplane. On appeal, the customer contended that the trial court erred by granting the motion for summary judgment because he disaffirmed the exculpatory agreement by filing a lawsuit within a reasonable time after he attained his majority. He also argued that the exculpatory agreement was void as a matter of public policy, and inasmuch as an exculpatory agreement must be strictly construed against the party seeking to avoid liability for negligence the injuries that he sustained in the airplane crash were beyond the scope of the agreement.

ISSUE:

Was the exculpatory agreement disaffirmed by plaintiff when he filed suit against the company within a reasonable time after he turned 18, but after he used defendant's services thereafter?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

On appeal, the court disagreed and found that the customer had not disaffirmed the agreement upon reaching the age of majority because he had accepted the benefits of the agreement when he used the company's services after turning the age of 18. The agreement was not void as a matter of public policy because the agreement was not an illegal adhesion contract and the provisions of the agreement were valid. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting partial summary judgment in favor of the company.

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