A leading North American fitness center won a motion to dismiss personal injury claims brought by a member.
The plaintiff claimed to have fallen in a dark cycle room due to a wet substance on the floor. Equipped with the testimony of her friend and workout partner, who alleged to have witnessed the fall, she claimed head and back injuries and an ankle sprain, and sought damages in excess of $50,000.
Goldberg Segalla partner James M. Rozak led the defense, which began with a thorough investigation and witness interviews. Jim then filed a motion to dismiss the pleading pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9), arguing the affirmative defense that the plaintiff had executed the membership agreement with an exculpatory clause. The clause waived liability for injuries that occur due to negligence on the premises while using the facilities and equipment. Our team supported the motion with affidavits from two of the gym’s employees. The plaintiff tried to avoid the motion to dismiss by claiming that slipping on a wet substance in a dark cycle room was not a reasonably foreseeable event at the time she executed the agreement. The plaintiff claimed that the applicability of the exculpatory clause was a fact issue and, at the very least, the case should be allowed to proceed through fact discovery.
After briefing and argument, taking the pleading and supporting affidavits as true, the trial court dismissed the case with prejudice, citing the applicability of the exculpatory clause and the plaintiff’s failure to contest the affidavits. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to reconsider on November 1, 2018.