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Osborn v. Cascade Mountain


. Amanda Osborn and her parents, Joan and Richard Osborn, appeal from a summary judgment dismissing their personal injury action against Cascade Mountain, Inc., and its insurer. The Osborns sued for injuries Amanda, then age twelve, received while skiing at Cascade Mountain. The dispositive issue is whether the Osborns' claim is subject to an enforceable release of liability agreement signed by Joan Osborn. We conclude that it is, and therefore affirm.

. The Osborns allege that a defective ski-boot-binding system, on ski equipment rented from Cascade Mountain, caused the injury to Amanda. However, before Amanda's ski trip, Joan signed a document entitled "Rental Permission Agreement and Release of Liability." That document provided:

I understand and am aware that skiing is a HAZARDOUS activity. I understand that the sport of skiing and the use of this ski equipment involve a risk of injury to any and all parts of my child's body. I hereby agree to freely and expressly assume and accept any and all risks of injury or death to the user of this equipment while skiing.

I understand that the ski equipment being furnished forms a part of or all of a ski-boot-binding system which will NOT RELEASE at all times or under all circumstances, and that it is not possible to predict every situation in which it will or will not release, and that its use cannot guarantee my child's safety or freedom from injury while skiing. I further agree and understand that this ski-boot-binding system may reduce but does not eliminate the risk of injuries to the bottom one-third of my child's lower leg. However, I agree and understand that this ski-boot-binding system does NOT reduce the risk of injuries to my child's knee or any other part of my child's body.

I agree that I will release Cascade Mountain from any and all responsibility or liability for injuries or damages to the user of the equipment listed on this form, or to any other person. I agree NOT to make a claim against or sue Cascade Mountain for injuries or damages relating to skiing and/or the use of this equipment. I agree to release Cascade Mountain from any such responsibility, whether it results from the use of this equipment by the user, or whether it arises from any NEGLIGENCE or other liability arising out of the maintenance, selection, mounting or adjustment of this ski equipment.


I have carefully read this agreement and release of liability and fully understand its contents. I am aware that this is a release of liability and a contract between my child, myself and Cascade Mountain and I sign it of my own free will.

. Amanda fell twice while skiing. Amanda had signed a second release agreement similar to the one previously signed by her mother. The second fall caused her injuries.

. Cascade Mountain moved for summary judgment, alleging that the above-quoted release rendered it immune from liability. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment. On appeal, the Osborns contend that the release is void on contract principles and public policy grounds.

. An exculpatory contract may be void on public policy grounds or under rules governing contracts. See Werdehoff v. General Star Indem. Co., 229 Wis. 2d 489, 499-500, 600 N.W.2d 214 (Ct. App. 1999). In either case, the issue is one of law. Yauger v. Skiing Enters., Inc., 206 Wis. 2d 76, 80, 557 N.W.2d 60 (1996). In deciding it, we owe no deference to the trial court. See M & I First Nat'l Bank v. Episcopal Homes Mgmt., Inc., 195 Wis. 2d 485, 497, 536 N.W.2d 175 (Ct. App. 1995).

. In Richards v. Richards, 181 Wis. 2d 1007, 1011, 513 N.W.2d 118 (1994), the supreme court appl

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