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Lhotka v. Geographic Expeditions, Inc.

Court of Appeal of California
181 Cal. App. 4th 816 (2010)


Facts

Jason Lhotka (plaintiff) purchased a Mount Kilimanjaro hiking expedition from Geographic Expeditions, Inc. (GeoEx) (defendant). GeoEx required all purchasers to sign a form for limitation of liability and release. The agreement mandated mediation and arbitration in San Francisco, California, and limited any recovery to the amount paid for the trip. The agreement also provided that the purchaser would be responsible for GeoEx’s attorneys’ fees if any action or claim was brought against GeoEx and that the purchaser was obligated to pay for half of the mediator’s costs. GeoEx included a letter with the agreement, stating that a signed, unmodified agreement was mandatory and that all other travel companies required basically the same terms. Lhotka signed the agreement and died during the expedition. Lhotka’s mother sued GeoEx for wrongful death, along with other claims. GeoEx filed a motion to compel arbitration in accordance with the agreement. The trial court denied the motion, and GeoEx appealed to the Court of Appeal of California.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Siggins, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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