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The Morrison Law Journal
July 2022
Volume XVI!, Edition 7

A Win for Sports Clubs: Court of Appeal Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of Fitness
Center Arising from Personal Injury Lawsuit Arising from a Trip-and-Fall in a Women's Sauna

By: Edward F. Morrison, Jr., Esq.
Larry A. Schwartz, Esq.

Fitness clubs are widely used throughout California. Typically, the fitness club will have its members, or guests, sign a broad waiver arising from the use of the club. Questions have arisen over time as to the application and scope of the releases and waiver of liability.

In the case of Joshi v. Fitness International, LLC (2022) 80.Cal.App 5th 814 ("Joshi case"), the Court of Appeal affirmed the grant of summary judgment arising from a trip-and-fall at a fitness club in San Jose. In the Joshi case, Plaintiff Mansi Joshi sued Fitness International, LLC, her sports club, arising from a trip-and-fall in the women's sauna. Joshi claimed that a lightbulb was out, and that internal documentation for the club showed that it was aware that a repair was needed. The club acknowledged that an inspection form had indicated a repair was needed, but denied knowledge of a defective condition on the premises, and further asserted that it was immune from a claim for ordinary negligence and that there was no basis for a claim for gross negligence or premises liability.

Fitness International, LLC filed a Motion for Summary Judgment based upon its member agreement and the release and waiver of liability and indemnity contained therein. The Trial Court granted summary judgment.

On Appeal, the Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that Summary Judgment was properly granted. The Court of Appeal held that the member agreement released the fitness club from any claim for ordinary negligence. The Court of Appeal further ruled that there was no triable issue of fact concerning gross negligence, noting that, while the issue of gross negligence is often one of fact, that issue can be resolved via Summary Judgment in cases such as this. In that regard, the Court of Appeal ruled that a May 1, 2017 checklist from a walkthrough of the facility, noting "need to repair," did not present actual evidence concerning a defective condition. The Court further ruled that there was no triable issue of fact as to premises liability, either.

The Joshi case is important in that it holds that, even in cases where there may be some issue of fact involving a personal injury claim (such as whether a lightbulb was out or missing), summary judgment can still be granted as to claims involving gross negligence or premises liability when there is a broad waiver.


About the Authors: Edward F. Morrison, Jr. is the founding partner and Larry A. Schwartz is Of Counsel to The Morrison Law Group, a professional corporation.

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