Be aware of waivers of liability in your gym’s contract!
In 2004, a woman named Gina Stelluti joined Powerhouse Gym in Brick, New Jersey. Within an hour of joining she had suffered a personal injury while working out at this gym.
In a spinning class she stood up on the pedals of the stationary bicycle (as instructed). Her hands were on the handlebars and her feet were strapped into the pedals. The handlebars fell out of place, causing Ms. Stelluti to fall to the ground. As a result, she experienced bruising, neck and back pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, and cracked a tooth.
It was later established that the pin(s) securing the handlebars in place on the exercise bike had fallen out or been removed.
In the process of joining the gym, Ms. Stelluti signed a waiver agreeing that she would be exercising “entirely at her own risks” , that she would “assume all risks”, and that she released the gym of liability “from all injuries which may occur as a result of …the sudden and unforeseen malfunctioning of any equipment”.
Stelluti sued the gym claiming improper maintenance of equipment. The Defense argued that by signing the “Waiver & Release Form”, Stelluti released the gym of any liability. The NJ lower court judge held that the agreement/waiver Ms. Stelluti signed was enforceable and she lost her case. An appeal was filed by Ms. Stelluti but the case was again found in favor of the gym by a 5-2 New Jersey Supreme Court decision.
Protect yourself. Read and understand any contract agreement in its entirety before signing. Do not risk suffering a personal injury only to learn you have no recourse. As part of her negligence claim, Ms. Stelluti asserted that she did not understand the agreement, but the judge found that to be insignificant. In the court’s eyes her signature upon the form indicated that she did understand the conditions of her gym membership.
Speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you have been injured while working out at your gym.