Sports groups need to explain waivers

Ruskin Slo-pitch League can be held liable after one if its players injured herself while attempting to catch a fly ball

The liability waivers many community sports groups have players sign may be invalid if it wasn’t explained to the player what they were signing.

A B.C. Supreme Court ruled last week that the Ruskin Slo-pitch League can be held liable after one if its players injured herself while attempting to catch a fly ball, because the waiver she signed wasn’t properly explained to her.

Danielle Arndt is suing the local recreation league, along with the District of Maple Ridge and others, after she stepped in a hole in the outfield of the Ruskin ball field in June 2009 during a game.

Arndt claims she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus of the right knee, requiring multiple surgical repairs, as well as microfractures in her right femur and soft tissue damage, and is seeking damages.

Arndt is claiming both the league and the district were negligent in maintaining the field, and failed to provide any warning to the players of a hole in the outfield.

Ruskin Slo-pitch applied to have the suit thrown out on the basis of the liability waiver Arndt had signed. However, Arndt argued that she thought was signing a team roster, and was unaware there was waiver included on the back of the form she signed.

“No one … provided me with any instructions on how to fill out the team roster, explained to me that the team roster included a waiver, directed my attention to the back side of the team roster, which contains the waiver, explained to me that by signing the team roster, I would waive my right to sue if I was injured by someone else’s negligence,” Arndt stated in her affidavit.

In her ruling, Madam Justice MA Humphries concluded the waiver was not enforceable as a result, and dismissed the application to have Arndt’s suit thrown out.

“I am unable to conclude that the defendants took reasonable steps to have the nature of the document as a waiver rather than a team roster brought to the plaintiff’s attention,” Justice Humphries said in her judgement.

Arndt’s suit against Ruskin Slo-pitch and the District of Maple Ridge is still before the court, with a trial date set for May 2012.

The statement of defence for the Ruskin Slo-pitch League denies such an accident occurred, and that even if it did, it would have been a result of Arndt’s negligence.

The District of Maple Ridge also claimed Arndt was negligent by failing to keep a proper lookout and take care of her own safety.