I just went through a tough decision (for me) to withdraw from a show that I dreamed of participating in for years due to the release/waiver. It made me wonder about show waivers in general. They are all different, but some are very similar. So I was wondering how many folks out here 1) read the releases, and 2) decide whether or not to show based on the release, and I guess 3) participate in shows even though you don’t really like the release, etc. I know we have quite a few attorneys on the forum and those with knowledge of the law. In particular, I have a problem with a lot of indemnification clauses.
I’m going to show part of a release here, but I will not publicly identify the show. I am not “mad” at the show or anything like that. And it’s the attorneys behind the scenes who write these things. So, this is the one that I had trouble with. (Bolding is mine.)
" Waiver of Liability, Indemnification, and Hold Harmless
Participant hereby voluntarily waives, releases, forever discharges, and agrees to indemnify, covenants not to sue, and holds harmless Releasees from any and all claims, demands, or causes of action that occur at the Event (including, without limitation, any claims, demands, or causes of action that are in any way connected with participation at the Event or the use of equipment, facilities, horses, or bringing horses at or to the Event) arising from actions, non-actions, or negligence of Releasees, third parties, animals, or any other cause whatsoever . Should Releasees or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorneys’ fees and costs to enforce this Agreement or defend a claim made by Participant, Participant agrees to indemnify** and hold them harmless for all such reasonable fees and costs. Furthermore, Participant agrees to not allow anybody to ride a horse under Participant’s care at the Event who has not signed this liability waiver. Also, Participant represents that Participant has adequate insurance to cover any personal injury, medical expenses or damages (personal, equine, or property). Participant may suffer or cause injury while participating at the Event or within or around the facilities at the Event, and agrees to bear the costs of such injury or damages."
I actually did email the show about this. This is what my concerns were: *"The concerning provisions are highlighted above. More succinctly, your release would require me to “ indemnify … any and all claims, demands, or causes of action … arising from actions, non-actions, or negligence of … third parties, or any other cause whatsoever. Should Releasees … be required to incur attorneys’ fees and costs to enforce this Agreement or defend a claim made by Participant *, Participant agrees to indemnify [Releasee] for all such reasonable fees and costs .” In layman’s terms, if a third party, for example another participant, commits a negligent act and injures someone else and that someone else decides to sue you, then I would be required to “indemnify” their claim (“any and all claims”), your attorney’s fees and costs of litigation. This would be so even if I personally had nothing to do with the negligent act or the claim brought by the injured party. Note that by using the legal term “indemnify” you would be requiring me to guarantee against any loss which you might suffer as a result of any lawsuit (“any and all claims”). Additionally, you are requiring me to indemnify against any loss you may incur from “any cause whatsoever”. Again, if a lightening strike, for example, injures someone and they decide to sue you, this release would require me to guarantee payment of any damages a court may adjudge against you, even if I had absolutely nothing to do with the lightening strike or the decision by the injured party to institute a lawsuit.
I have absolutely no issue with releasing and holding you harmless from any injuries incurred by me and to indemnify you from any awarded damages, attorneys’ fees and costs if I or anyone on my behalf should seek to sue you for those injuries. In other words, from any and all claims made by me or an agent acting on behalf. But I do not see how you can expect me to pay for any losses you incur as a result of a “claim” brought by someone who may have nothing to do with me or my actions."
I know most people probably think that they sign these things all the time and nothing has ever happened. But what if? I don’t want to risk my assets, etc. for the possibility that some little child gets hurt badly and seeing that a child cannot sign away their rights with any waiver, their next friend sues the show, and the show’s insurance company decides to go after participants to pay off a big settlement. Will it happen, maybe not. Or maybe even it’s unlikely. But if it does?
Now, some other shows I do participate in do not have such an indemnification clause, thankfully, so I show there. But I’m really heartbroken over this one, as it was a bucket-list-type of show.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I guess I’m just venting a bit.