Enforcing Releases/Waivers of Liability for Health & Fitness Clubs: A State by State Compendium

(552 Ratings)

Produced on: October 14, 2015

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 62 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

In order to limit loss and exposure, many health & fitness organizations have their members and guests sign waivers of liability before participating in any activities. But will those waivers really shield health clubs from potential liability? This program provides a state by state comparison of the enforceability of liability waivers and general releases. It will become unquestionably evident that a waiver upheld in one state could just as easily be found unenforceable in another. This course identifies the most “lenient” states for enforcing waivers and compare them to the stricter jurisdictions throughout the county. 


The course also discusses some of the overriding factors courts rely upon when determining whether a waiver can be upheld, such as whether the language of the waiver is clear and unambiguous, the circumstances under which the release is being executed, and whether the state’s public policy would allow such a release to be enforced. It explores each state’s twist on these factors by examining seminal decisions. 


Finally, the course reviews actual releases and waivers from health and fitness clubs throughout the country and discusses whether these examples would be enforceable in different jurisdictions. Mr. Mezzacappa also discusses the pitfalls of the enforceability of waivers and offers advice to address these potential defects during the drafting stage. 


Learning Objectives: 

I. Review how each state treats waivers/releases of liability 

II. Identify the key factors each state relies upon in determining whether a release is enforceable 

III. Examine actual waivers/releases of liability that are being used throughout the country, discussing whether they are enforceable and identifying potential issues with each release 

IV. Identify the classic pitfalls that prevent waivers/releases of liability from being enforced and consider potential ways to address these defects in the drafting stage


Michael P. Mezzacappa

Kaufman, Borgeest & Ryan LLP

Michael is a partner and trial attorney who has counseled and represented numerous corporations and clients, including manufacturers of various products, lawyers, construction companies, trucking companies, health clubs, security companies, alarm installers, landlords, managing agents, foster care agencies, municipalities, nurses, physicians, nursing homes and physical therapists. Michael has successfully tried many high-exposure cases to verdict.


In March 2015, Michael spoke at the New York State Bar Association sponsored Premises Liability Seminar in New York City on the topic of security guard cases. In October 2014, Michael spoke at the NYSBA’s seminar on Depositions in New York City. In October 2013, Michael spoke at the NYSBA’s seminar entitled 2013 Law School for Insurance Professionals regarding the use of social media in claims investigations, discovery and jury selection. Michael moderated the 2013 NYSBA sponsored Health, Fitness and Adventure Sports Liability Seminar in Manhattan in August 2013, specifically addressing the applicability and effectiveness of exculpatory clauses, releases and waivers under GOL Section 5-326. In the Fall of 2012, Michael was a speaker on the topic of Ethics during a Medicare Set Aside seminar on Long Island, which was sponsored by the National Business Institute. In the Spring of 2011, Michael lectured on the topic of Premises Liability for the New York State Bar Association. In the Fall of 2010, Michael lectured at the Law School for Insurance Professionals course sponsored by the New York State Bar Association on the topics of Medicare and liens. His outlines are published in the corresponding course books. He also was a contributing author to the Construction Site Personal Injury Litigation, New York Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6) text originally published in 2006 and updated in 2008 by the New York State Bar Association. Michael has lectured at the Construction Work Site and Accident Litigation Seminar in the Fall of 2003 for the New York State Bar Association. 

Daniel A. Schilling

Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLP

Daniel is an associate focusing on the fields of general liability, premises liability, insurance defense, and insurance coverage. Daniel handles all aspects of personal injury litigation, insurance related lawsuits, and coverage opinions.


During law school, Daniel served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Allison J. Nathan of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.


Matthew E.


Joshua H.

Very well organized and presented with straightforward caselaw and examples.

Boyd W.

I especially appreciated the fact that specific example clauses were included in the written material and the fact that each state was categorized. I am from Wyoming and there is rarely any attempt to include Wyoming law in substantive legal discussions or programs.

Marlon S.

Very nice material. Very useful and clear. Both presenters were also quite "relatable."

Chris R.

Fantastic and incredibly well researched.

Vincent D.

This was super, super helpful. Excellent program to introduce someone to this topic.

Lois M.

teachers interacted well together. this could be a longer course.

Thomas C.

good work gentlemen

Irene I.

interesting topic; very applicable

arthur f.

good overview of releases/waivers for most states.

John F.

I was surprised by the quality of this information.

Yvenne K.

Good presentation. Excellent written materials!! I know that took A LOT of work. Thank you.

tim r.

Great balance of explaining specifics while offering big-picture perspective.

Teresa R.

Good general overview.

Julie C.

I liked the breakdown by state. I happen to be in Florida, but I found it very interesting to see the trends and differences in treatment by state.

Brenda S.

The instructors were very informative

Alfred S.

I had an issue regarding releases at a sports club just come up. The seminar provided me with some good ideas and legal authority. Would recommend to others.

Rodney S.


Richard F.

Great course in content, delivery, and materials. Thank you.

Stephen L.

Excellent course!

Daria C.

Very informative and they handled state-to-state differences clearly.

Thomas B.

Very informative, especially for Virginia

Vicki B.

Speakers are great, and the written materials are extremely useful. Thanks!

Victoria C.

Excellent speakers

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