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Alack v. Vic Tanny International of Missouri, Inc.

923 S.W.2d 330 (1996)

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Alack v. Vic Tanny International of Missouri, Inc.

Supreme Court of Missouri

923 S.W.2d 330 (1996)

Facts

Charles Alack (plaintiff) became a member of Vic Tanny International of Missouri, Inc., (Vic Tanny) (defendant), a health-club facility. Upon his enrollment, Alack signed an agreement containing a general exculpatory clause that released the facility from liability for any damages, injuries, or claims. The exculpatory clause did not expressly release Vic Tanny from injuries sustained by a member resulting from the club’s own negligence. Later, while using an upright row machine, Alack was seriously injured when the machine’s handle disengaged from the weight cable and struck Alack in the mouth and jaw. Alack was required to see a dentist over 20 times and underwent two surgeries. Alack expected to incur medical bills exceeding $17,000. Alack filed a negligence suit against Vic Tanny. At trial, Alack testified that he did not interpret the exculpatory clause to mean that he released the health club from all future negligence. Rather, Alack thought the clause meant that he was releasing Vic Tanny from liability for injuries Alack sustained by lifting too much weight or working out for an extended time. The jury held for Alack and awarded him damages of $17,000. Vic Tanny’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict was denied by the trial court. Vic Tanny appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Price, Jr., J.)

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