Every day you have to balance your risk management equation and keep tracking of changing laws and court decisions. The Recreation Law Center Library is your portal for understanding the complex legal issues in outdoor adventure and recreation. Reb Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp, two of the best known recreation law attorneys in the United States, analyze cutting edge court decisions pertinent to the industry.
Reb is a practicing attorney in Houston, Texas, specializing in issues of outdoor recreation and education law. He has served as President of the Houston Bar Association. Reb serves on the Board of Directors of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), on the Wilderness Risk managers Committee, and on the Accreditation Council of the Association for Experiential Education. He consults with and serves as counsel to numerous outdoor adventure and education programs, including summer camps, secondary schools, challenge courses and outfitters. He serves as general counsel to the Association for Challenge Course Technology and served for many years as counsel to the National Outdoor Leadership School. He is a frequent speaker and writer on subjects important to the industry.
Catherine is an attorney in private practice in Golden, Colorado. She consults with and advises recreation, adventure and sport program providers and product manufacturers/sellers and related organizations on law, liability and risk management issues. She speaks and writes frequently on these issues, both regionally and nationally. Catherine’s clients include camps and outdoor programs, public and private schools, outfitters and guides, dude ranches, science and environmental programs, ropes and challenge course builders and facilitators, adventure product manufacturers/sellers, resort owners, competitive event sponsors and others. She graduated in 1981 from The Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colorado), and received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wyoming (Laramie, Wyoming) in 1985. She is a member of both the Wyoming and Colorado Bar Associations.
The Recreation Law Center is a unique service from OutdoorEd.com. Two of the most respected figures in outdoor recreation law, Reb Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp are your guides through their presentation of critical legal cases impacting the outdoor education, recreation and adventure field. Stay on top of key legal and risk management issues through your access to The Recreation Law Library.
Do you use volunteers in your program? A holding in a recent Tennessee case highlights the issues that programs can face if they utilize volunteer leaders or allow volunteers to assist in running their programs. Although the use of volunteers can reap obvious benefits for an organization (you are not paying wages!), the Jordan case is a strong reminder that programs should address these issues before they utilize volunteers.
This Ohio case provides an excellent example of the finger pointing that can occur between a service provider and a manufacturer, when the alleged misuse of a product causes serious injury or death. The case teaches the value of a service provider addressing, proactively, the risks associated with participants’ use of equipment—particularly when the equipment is fundamental to the success of the activity—and to the well-being of the participant!
Organizations that own their own premises and facilities (“property”) often rent their property to outside organizations (or individuals)—in a variety of arrangements—in between their regular programming. These arrangements can be profitable for a premises owner, and great for the outside organization wanting to expand its programming or activities.
Are You Sure Your Releases Include YOU? A New Hampshire Court ruling denying Dartmouth protection under a release of liability, emphasizes the value in crafting these documents to clearly reflect their intended scope and purpose. In September the New Hampshire Federal District Court made significant rulings relating to the scope of a release—which raise some troubling issues, arising out of some unique and troubling facts. The Court's holding underlines the importance of a service provider acting proactively in considering the use of these types of documents in its operation.
Duty: the legal obligation to protect another from harm. No Duty – No Liability – Case Dismissed! Your best defense to a claim of negligence may be that a participant's injury resulted from an inherent risk of the activity—the doctrine of Primary Assumption of Risk. A California broomball case illustrates how this doctrine can be used as the basis for dismissal of a claim of negligence. Get acquainted with this valuable defensive tool and how it is interpreted in your jurisdiction.
A New York court rules that a HIV positive 10 year old boy was discriminated against, on the basis of his disability, when a camp denied him access to a one week basketball camp. Whether or not you agree with the Court’s decision, where is your organization in its preparation to consider accommodations for those with disabilities?
Duty of Care: the legal obligation to protect another from harm. Where does an individual’s or organization’s duty of care begin and end? The Supreme Court in Maine looks at a unique issue involving allegations of sexual assault that occurred after a participant left a program.
This Appeals Court opinion addresses a claim arising from an injury suffered at a child's birthday party. The Woodman case provides an excellent survey of the laws of various states regarding a parent's right to sign a pre-injury waiver on behalf of a child.
A California Court strikes down a binding arbitration clause in a release agreement used by an expedition adventure company on the grounds it was “permeated” with unconscionability.
Most programs deal with young children on a frequent basis, and can benefit from an understanding of a child's legal responsibility, within the context of a lawsuit, for their assumption of risks. In Kane, a Georgia Court dismissed a suit where a child fell from a piece of equipment on the basis of a nine-year old's knowledge of climbing (and falling).
Recreation and adventure education providers are often reluctant to review their insurance coverage--and even hesitant to contact their insurance representatives to inform them of new activities, for fear their premiums will go up. But being inattentive to your organization's insurance plan can be a dangerous approach. The Nautilus case, out of Missouri, demonstrates what can happen when an organization puts coverage on the back burner, or simply doesn’t take the time to determine if appropriate coverage is in place.