Jimenez v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc.Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed a complaint against 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. (24 Hour) stating causes of action for premises liability, general negligence, and loss of consortium. Plaintiffs Etelvina and Pedro Jimenez appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of 24 Hour. Etelvina sustained a catastrophic injury while using a treadmill at a 24 Hour facility in Sacramento. Etelvina’s expert opined that she fell backwards off of a moving treadmill and sustained severe head injuries when she hit her head on the exposed steel foot of a leg exercise machine that 24 Hour placed approximately three feet ten inches behind the treadmill. 24 Hour filed an answer to the complaint generally denying the allegations and claiming several affirmative defenses, including the defense that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by a liability release. Plaintiffs asserted that 24 Hour was grossly negligent in setting up the treadmill in a manner that violated the manufacturer’s safety instructions. On appeal, plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in 24 Hour’s favor because: (1) the liability release was not enforceable against plaintiffs’ claim of gross negligence; (2) the release was obtained by fraud and misrepresentation; and (3) the release only encompasses reasonably foreseeable risks and Etelvina’s injury was not reasonably foreseeable at the time she signed the release. After review, the Court of Appeal agreed with plaintiff's first two contentions. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.