Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hanks v. Powder Ridge Restaurant Corp. case brief

Hanks v. Powder Ridge Restaurant Corp. case brief summary
885 A.2d 734 (2005)

Plaintiff injured person sued defendant facility operators for injuries sustained while snowboarding at the facility as a result of the operators' alleged negligence. The injured person appealed the grant of summary judgment by the Superior Court in the Judicial District of Middlesex (Connecticut) in favor of the operators. The injured person claimed, inter alia, that an exculpatory agreement was unenforceable because it violated public policy.

The facility invited the public, in exchange for a fee, to ski, snowboard and snowtube. The injured person brought his three children and another child to snowtube. The injured person signed a "Waiver, Defense, Indemnity and Hold Harmless Agreement, and Release of Liability." While snowtubing, the injured person's foot became caught between his snow tube and the man-made bank of the snowtubing run, resulting in serious injuries that required multiple surgeries to repair.


  • The appellate court concluded that the agreement expressly and unambiguously purported to release the facility operators from prospective liability for negligence. 
  • However, the agreement violated public policy because, among other things, the operators invited the public generally to snowtube at their facility regardless of snowtubing ability, snowtubers were under the care and control of the operators as a result of an economic transaction, the agreement was a standardized adhesion contract offered to snowtubers on a "take it or leave it" basis, and without the opportunity to purchase protection against negligence at an additional, reasonable fee, and the operators had superior bargaining authority.
The grant of summary judgment by the trial court was reversed.

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