Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in an accident lawsuit involving a Texas resident. The victim’s joined his church group on an out-of-state wilderness expedition trip. The church hired a company to arrange the group’s activities. The company required the participants to complete a “registration form” and “medical form.” On the first day of the trip, the victim participated in a rappelling course. However, during the course, he became inverted, fell, and died. The victim’s wife filed a lawsuit against the rappelling company.
In response to the lawsuit, the company moved for summary judgment arguing, amongst several issues, that Texas law did not apply to the case. Cases involving Texas residents suffering injuries in another state can pose many challenges to plaintiffs. The law provides that in diversity actions, the court should apply the conflict-of-laws rules of the forum state. This also applies in contract language dispute matters.
In this case, Texas laws require liability releases to be “adequately conspicuous,” which is a stricter standard than Colorado law. As such, the plaintiff contended that because her husband signed the release in Texas, Texas law should apply. However, the magistrate judge concluded that Colorado law controlled the matter. On appeal, the appellate court explained that Colorado law applies because diversity actions require courts to apply the conflict-of-laws rules of the forum state.
Here, the court explained that applying Texas law would hinder commerce and would require recreation companies to know the laws of every state a participant lives. Further, the court claimed that this rule would impose a significant burden on outdoor-recreation companies whose primary income source is out-of-state participants.
As such, the court analyzed the case under Colorado law. The plaintiff argued that the company could not establish that the parties’ intention is clear and unambiguous. However, the court found that the forms were straightforward and uncomplicated and specifically addressed the risk that caused the victim’s injury. Moreover, the liability contained bolded emphasis on the release of liability. Finally, the victim completed the forms months before the trip, and the court determined that he had time to express any difficulty understanding the forms. However, the court conceded that the victim did not have rappelling experience, but that on its own, does not invalidate the release. This case highlights the importance of contacting an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action after an accident.
Have You Suffered Injuries During a Texas Excursion?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died in a Texas accident, contact the attorneys at Carabin Shaw. Our firm’s San Antonio personal injury lawyers have nearly 30 years of experience advocating on behalf of Texas injury victims and their families. Our office has recovered significant amounts of compensation for our clients. We handle injury cases involving Texas motor vehicle accidents, pedestrians, premises liability, defective products, recreational activities, and medical malpractice. Our lawyers provide clients with respect, compassion, and aggressive representation at every stage of the process. Contact our office at 800-862-1260 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney on our team.