A case that began after a member injured himself in a Club One facility in 2007 has come to a close.
Bill McBride, COO of Club One, San Francisco, tells Club Industry that the Supreme Court of California has decided not to hear the case Finley vs. Club One Inc., which was heard last March in the Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division One. The appeals court reversed the decision of a lower court that had ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
“The California Appellate Court affirmed that Club One’s Waiver of Claims in its membership agreement was enforceable to bar the plaintiff's claim,” McBride says. “We are very pleased with this result.”
In December 2007, David Finley, who at the time was a scout for the Boston Red Sox, injured his ankle when he slipped and fell while playing basketball at one of Club One’s facilities, according to court documents. The previous night, an employee from an outside janitorial service had inadvertently applied a stainless steel cleaner to the basketball court, documents show.
Finley sued Club One and two individuals with the janitorial service, alleging negligence and premises liability. Finley said he had joined Club One in late 2003 or early 2004, but in December 2006, Finley signed a new membership agreement to get a lower monthly rate. That agreement contained a waiver of claims/arbitration provision, Club One claimed before a jury.
The jury found Club One and the other defendants negligent and awarded Finley $1.8 million in damages, including $25,000 in past medical expenses, according to court documents. Club One was found at 68 percent fault.
However, a justice with the appeals court wrote in March: “We conclude the liability waiver provision within the membership agreement signed and initialed by Finley in December 2006 is enforceable even if Finley did not read the agreement and believed it only reduced his payment terms. Further, the trial court erred in concluding the provision is inconspicuous, unclear or ambiguous. Because the release is a complete bar to Finley’s personal injury claims, we … reverse the judgment.”