Signed Liability Waiver Clears Equestrian Coach of Liability.

The plaintiffs' daughter was a 17-year old equestrian competitor and the defendant was her coach/trainer.  The parties had executed a liability release form in which the daughter agreed to release the defendant from liability except for damages caused by the defendant's "direct, willful and wanton negligence."  During a competition, the daughter's horse struck a hurdle which caused the daughter to fall with the horse then falling on the daughter resulting in the daughter's death.  The plaintiffs sued the defendant for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress as a result of witnessing the accident and the daughter's death.  The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment based on the release of liability.  On appeal, the court affirmed.  The court noted that the release provided an express assumption of risk defense as to the plaintiffs' claims of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The court determined that the release was not ambiguous, and that the plaintiffs failed to carry their burden to prove that the defendant acted with gross negligence (because the release served as a defense to the claims arising from ordinary negligence).  Eriksson, et al. v. Nunnink, 233 Cal. App. 4th 708 (2015).

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