And liability releases come into play
A gross negligence lawsuit filed by a member of 24 Hour Fitness is all about the safety standards for treadmills… or the lack thereof.
The plaintiff claims she suffered a severe head injury after falling backwards off a treadmill and hitting another piece of steel equipment. The exercise machine she hit her head on was placed approximately 46 inches from the rear of the treadmill.
24 Hour Fitness argues that the plaintiff signed a liability release and that there is no treadmill safety zone industry standard. However, the plaintiff’s attorneys are countering by citing a section of the treadmill manufacturer’s owner’s manual and safety guidelines, as well as an expert’s statement that the plaintiff was put at risk by the distance between the treadmill and other piece of equipment.
According to ASTM International Standard F2115-05 there should be a clear distance of 20 inches on either side of the treadmill and 39 inches behind the treadmill.
“This standard, while not widely known by club operators, is very well known by the equipment manufacturers and has been effectively used in court cases,” said Steve Tharrett, president of Club Industry Consulting.
The plaintiff is claiming that her signature on the liability release was fraudulently obtained.
On the day she signed the membership agreement she could neither speak nor read English, according to the suit. The manager, who could not speak Spanish, showed her the membership fee on the computer screen and made exercise motions, which the plaintiff understood was the price for use of the facility. Since she could only read the numbers in the price, the plaintiff was not aware of the liability release provision included in the membership agreement when she signed.
We offer more articles on fitness center and treadmill safety and encourage you to read “Are Waiver/Releases Worth the Paper They are Written On?”