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DIEDRICH v. WRIGHT
July 7, 1982
ELLEN DIEDRICH, PLAINTIFF,
GEORGE W. WRIGHT AND RANDALL GADDINI, D/B/A BELVIDERE PARACHUTE CENTER; AND PAUL KEVIN THOMPSON, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Moran, District Judge.
Plaintiff Ellen Diedrich brought this action against defendants
George W. Wright and Randall Gaddini, d/b/a Belvidere Parachute
Center, and Paul Kevin Thompson,*fn1 an employee of the
Center, seeking compensation for injuries she sustained when
making a parachute jump in June 1976. In her complaint
plaintiff alleged that defendants failed to provide an adequate
course of ground instruction, carelessly and negligently
provided unsafe equipment for her jump, and violated numerous
rules and procedures promulgated by the Federal Aviation
Administration governing the conduct of parachute jumping
In their answers to the complaint all defendants raised, inter
alia, two defenses:*fn2 (1) plaintiff assumed the risk of
injury and (2) a release form executed by plaintiff exonerates
defendants from any liability. Plaintiff has moved for partial
summary judgment, requesting the court to declare, as a matter
of law, that neither defense is valid. See 10 Wright &
Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure, § 2737 (1973). For the
reasons discussed below, the motion is granted and the
affirmative defenses are stricken.
Most of the facts underlying this action are not in dispute. On
June 6, 1976 Ellen Diedrich first visited the Belvidere
Parachute Center to watch a friend make a parachute jump. Since
there was room on the plane plaintiff was permitted to view the
jump from the air. First, however, she was required to sign a
release form exonerating the parachute center from liability
for any injuries. In her deposition testimony plaintiff stated
that she believed that the release was solely for the limited
purpose of permitting her to go up in the airplane:
"A. ___ they gave me this thing. They had me sign something
so that I could go up in the plane.
Q. So your understanding was this was solely for the purposes
of going up in the plane? (sic)
(Dep. of E. Diedrich, p. 35).
The release form, headlined "Release, Waiver and Assumption of
Risk," and captioned "Read This Carefully Before Signing,"
provided as follows:
"I . . . agree that my participating in sport parachuting
activities . . . shall be at my own risk. I realize and
acknowledge that sport parachuting contains certain
unforeseen and unforeseeable risks and hazards over which
Belvidere Parachute Center has no control and I voluntarily
assume such hazards and risks.
"Belvidere Parachute Center shall not be liable to me on
account of any personal injury sustained by me in, on, or
about the premises, aircraft or skies above or adjacent to
Belvidere Parachute Center.
". . . I agree on behalf of myself, my heirs, survivors or
assignees, to fully and forever release, discharge, indemnify
and hold harmless George Wright, Randall Gaddini, d/b/a
Belvidere Parachute Center, its agents, servants and
employees from any and all claims, demands, damages, rights
of action or causes of action, present or future, whether the
known, anticipated or unanticipated, resulting from or
arising out ...
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