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No freedom of contract in Connecticut

Gregory Hanks and his family went snow-tubing in February 2003. The Powder Ridge Ski Resort in Middlefield wouldn't sell him a ticket unless he agreed to waive suit for alleged negligence. Hanks did agree (admittedly because he believed he could get out of the waiver), broke his ankle, and sued. Hanks won his gamble; the state supreme court has ruled 4-3 that the resort couldn't enforce the contract against Hanks (though he realized the benefit of the bargain of the lower price based on his promise), and his suit will go forward.

Attorney John B. Farley, one of the lawyers representing Powder Ridge, said he's not sure the ski area will continue to offer snow tubing in light of the ruling. "I don't know that they can afford to offer that activity without the benefit of these kinds of releases."

He said the ski resort will now have to analyze whether it's economically feasible to offer snow tubing.

"Assuming they can get insurance, how much will it cost?" Farley said. "It definitely makes it more expensive. It's just a question of whether it's prohibitive."

(Lynne Tuohy, "Liability Waivers Flawed", Hartford Courant, Nov. 28; Hanks v. Powder Ridge Restaurant Corp.; Hanks v. Powder Ridge Restaurant Corp. dissent).



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.