The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico has handed down a ruling denying a motion to dismiss a New Mexico personal injury complaint alleging claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The court rejected the defendant’s contention that a waiver signed by the plaintiff should result in the dismissal of her claims.
The plaintiff in this case was a civilian who was injured at a U.S. Air Force Base. According to the court’s ruling, she had gone there with a group of her coworkers to participate in team building exercises. One of these exercises involved rappelling down a tower. The plaintiff and her coworkers were each handed a waiver of liability form, with the Sergeant handing them out explaining that the waivers were documents “relieving the Air Force from responsibility for injuries and that the participants had to understand they were taking a risk by rappelling.”
The plaintiff did not recall a discussion of specific risks, including, for example, falling or the safety line not working. She signed the waiver, took some training after explaining she had no experience, and ascended to the top of the rappelling tower. She fell and was thereafter moved and assessed. One of her coworkers then took her to the hospital in an ambulance.