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Court must interpret waiver and release signed by gym member who sliced Achille's tendon on ladder

Philip Bujanda sued Spartan Athletics doing business as Spartan Crossfit after he ruptured his Achille's tendon when he caught his heel on a nearby ladder.  There was a factual dispute with regard to whether Bujanda was talking to another class member while warming up prior to class, or whether he had begun doing "air squats" as part of class participation.  At the gym's insurer's request, the trial judge granted summary disposition, holding that a release Bujanda had signed some months earlier barred him from pursuing a negligence claim against the gym.  The injured man appealed.

The Court of Appeals rejected Bujanda's claim that the release language was ambiguous. It also rejected his argument that the release was no longer binding because he had allowed his membership to lapse, and then rejoined the gym months later without signing a new release. Rather, the Court held that the Release would apply indefinitely, apparently, regardless of whether Bujanda was a member of the gym or not.

On the other hand, the Court noted that the Defendant was interpreting its own release far too broadly.  By its express terms, the release applied only to waive any negligence claim arising out of the the releasing party's participation in "physical training" or an "activity or class."  It did not cover injuries merely suffered as a visitor to the premises, by its very terms:  therefore, if the jury found that the gym was negligent and that Bujanda was hurt while waiting to begin class, the Release would not waive his negligence claim.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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