Week 2 IRAC Brief
24 HOUR FITNESS USA, INC.
On November 11, 2011, Timothy Grebing, the plaintiff, who is a 24-Hour Fitness USA membership holder, in La Mirada, California, signed an agreement, voluntarily releasing the defendant, 24-Hour Fitness USA facility of any liability from injuries sustained while utilizing the facility.
On May 9, 2012, the plaintiff, injured himself while using exercise equipment in the fitness facility. While operating the low row machine, the plaintiff increased the weight to 220 or 240 pounds. When the plaintiff pulled the handlebar on the machine, a clip malfunctioned, causing the handlebar to separate from the cable. The handlebar then, struck the plaintiff in the head. As a result, of the malfunction, the plaintiff asserts that he received back, head and neck injuries.
The defendant hired a facilities technician, Ricardo Alcaraz, to inspect the exercise machines daily. On the day of the plaintiff’s injuries Mr. Alcaraz was absent from work however, a facility worker inspected the machine on that day. Additionally, a club member, Rene Lozoya reported to the facility manager, that while was using a pull down machine, she noticed that the clip on the machine was crooked. When making the complaint, Ms. Lozoya did not inform the manager that the low row machine was broken or malfunctioning. Within 15 minutes, of Ms. Lozoya’s complaint the plaintiff was injured.
The plaintiff claims that 24-Hour Fitness was grossly negligent in its maintenance of the low row machine; therefore the plaintiff asserts that the gym, created a dangerous condition that resulted in his injuries.
The defendant argued that the plaintiff signed a written release of liability, agreeing not to hold 24-Hour Fitness liable for any bodily injury, and that it was not grossly negligent.
In October 2012, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant asserting a cause of action for negligence. Following the plaintiff’s complaint filing, the defendant moved for summary judgment or summary adjudication. On February 28, 2014, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion and found that it was not liable or negligent. The defendant appealed the trials court’s ruling and California Court of Appeals, later affirmed the trial court’s decision.
Issue: Whether under California law, was 24-Hour Fitness grossly negligent and should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, where an exercise machine malfunctioned while the plaintiff was using it?
Rule: According to California law, gross negligence requires a showing of “ the want of even scant care or an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct.” Decker v City of Imperial Beach, 209 Cal.app.3d 349,358. The California Court of Appeals applied this definition and affirmed that the acts or lack thereof of the defendant does not constitute gross negligence.
Analysis: On the day of the plaintiff’s injuries there were no reports made about malfunctions or other safety issues for the low row machine. Therefore, the defendant was unaware that the machine was broken and did not have time to conduct an inspection of all of the exercise machines after Ms. Lozoya’s complaint that the clip on the pull down machine was crooked, which was given to the manager within 15 minutes of the plaintiff’s injuries that he sustained on the low row machine. Moreover, as normal practice the defendant enforced a daily facility maintenance check of all exercise machines and equipment. A maintenance check was conducted on the day of the plaintiff’s injuries. Taking these proactive measures into account it can be held that the defendant did not display a want of even scant care or extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct.
Conclusion: The plaintiff’s contention that the defendant’s assertions in this case has no merit. Thus, the plaintiff signed two separate agreements in which he waived the defendant’s liability for injuries sustained while using the facility. Additionally, the defendant took proper measures to maintain the facility and the machines used by its patrons. The California Court of Appeals affirmed the trials court’s ruling. The court concluded that 24-Hour Fitness was not negligent in the services provided.
Grebing v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. (2015) Cal.App.4th. Retrieved April 13, 2015, from: