Bagley v. Mt. Bachelor

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Contract Law
  • Date Filed: 12-18-2014
  • Case #: S061821
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; En Banc
  • Full Text Opinion

A liability release is unconscionable and unenforceable if both its procedural and substantive elements are so against public policy that they protect negligent premises-management and allocate all negligent damages upon a paying customer with no bargaining power.

Bagley appealed a judgment from the Court of Appeals affirming the enforceability of an anticipatory release, arguing that the release violates public policy and is unconscionable. Bagley was permanently paralyzed at the terrain park on Mt. Bachelor, defendant’s premises, and alleged that the ski jump was negligently constructed and maintained. Mt. Bachelor was granted summary judgment because, prior to injury, Bagley signed a release immunizing Mt. Bachelor from liability from all negligent injuries suffered. On review, the Court analyzed the question of whether the release was unconscionable by analyzing whether the contract violated public policy. In analyzing whether the contract was both procedurally and substantively unconscionable, the Court found that, while the release was unambiguous, Mt. Bachelor held significantly greater bargaining power; the Court also found that the result was unduly harsh because Mt. Bachelor alone could have prevented the negligence, and was so required to keep its premises reasonably safe for invitees. Because these factors weighed in Bagley’s favor, the contract was held unconscionable. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case is remanded to that court for further proceedings.

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