N.J. Court Allows Wrongful Death Suit Despite Waiver

April 14, 2004

  • April 24, 2004 at 1:21 am
    Lloyd Humphrey says:
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    as a person who routinely participates in high risk activities ,I find it unfortunate that our legal system has not redefined this area. When a person makes a decission to particiate in a high risk activity ,they’ve assumed resposibility for the outcome and the provider of the event or activity should not then need to face the litigation of the heirs. This area of the law needs to be changed.

  • April 26, 2004 at 11:46 am
    Lonnie Souder says:
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    I agree with Lloyd Humphrey 100%. People are out of control with lawsuits. People need to take responsibility for their actions and stop looking for free money or a big pay off. I understand that the loss of a love one is tramatic but the mortality rate is 100% we all die, it is just some die sooner doing something they love.

  • April 29, 2004 at 5:59 am
    Trygve says:
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    What next?

    If someone tries to blow his head of with a 12 gauge, misses and sues the maker, how many millions will the court award him?

    I don’d dive, and have no plans to learn, either, but I know one thing, and that is that there won’t be many places to learn to do so in New Jersey any more….
    (Or parachuting, whitewater rafting, or anything else potentially dangerous)

    Boy am I glad to live in Norway…

  • September 14, 2004 at 4:41 am
    Marc says:
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    This is indeed a just and proper decision. The court’s ruling is proper in that I can not give up someone else’s rights. The idea of wrongful death is that a person or corporation is responsible for gross negligence in the death of someone to whom they have a legal responsibility of care. The dive boats or dive operators assume this responsibility when they agree to provide services or equipment. Just as if I were to skydive and sign all waivers giving up my rights to sue for negligence, were they to knowingly provide me with faulty equipment, the contract is invalid and my relatives could sue for wrongful death. The idea of the waiver is to protect the dive charter from lawsuits where it is the person’s own fault for the death or injury. If the client misrepresented his abilities or erred in some other way, the contract prevents the company from being sued. However, as we’ve seen from the OJ Simpson trial and most likely from the civil suit against Kobe Bryant, Wrongful Death statutes are more broadly defined and may make the dive operators liable even if they weren’t negligent. This is a cost of doing business and if they didn’t want the risk associated with providing hazardous services, they should close up shop.
    A similar case involving an out of shape, overweight gentleman who expedited his learning of technical diving and they dove the Andrea Doria and died also was allowed to be brought to trial by his heirs. If memory serves, the judge ruled for the family stating that they instructor and dive charter should have seen his physical shape was in poor condition for such a dive and that the expedited pace of his training did not make him suitable for such a dive. Though, I could be mistaken on this case. If someone knows of it, please feel free to correct me.

  • December 22, 2004 at 8:54 am
    Edward Cameron says:
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    Kindly do not equate a diving accident to a premeditated suicide by a firearm. Mr. Pietroluongo was my friend and would have cringed at the insensetive comment you made. He had class, you don’t. I’m glad you live in Norway,stay there!

  • March 27, 2006 at 7:59 am
    Geoff says:
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    So, you believe that people who are involved with high-risk activities should not be able to assert claims of negligence, gross negligence, or willful/criminal conduct against others because of the high degree of risk involved with their activity? Keep in mind that it is one thing for a person to take responsibility for their own actions, and quite another for a person to take be required to take responsibility for other people\’s actions.

    Suppose that your sky-diving instructor gave a student a defective parachute. By your logic, since sky-diving is inherently risky, the student should be \”responsible\” for the outcome. Take it a step further: Suppose that the instructor knew, or should have known that the parachute was defective. Suppose the instructor was blitzed out of his/her mind at the time. Still — by your logic, its all on the student.

    Can I also conclude from your posting that it is OK to hold people responsible for their negligence when the activities involve low or no risk? Say, you walk into the lobbey of a building, open for business, and fall through a floor to the parking garage and get run-over by a moving car. Merely walking into a building is not an inerently risky thing to do. You fell through the floor because of shoddy maintenance work. In this case, whoever is responsible for the shoddy work should be held to account for your injuries, right?

    So, please tell me, how is this any different from becomming injured or dying due to a negligent sky-diving instructor? Just as the guy who walked into the building reasonably expected he would not fall through the floor, the student reasonably expects that the parachute that the instructor gave him is not defective.

    I fail to see why someone should not be allowed to hold others responsible for their negligent acts and misdeeds because of the degree of risk involved.



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