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Johnson v. Gold's Gym Rockies, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 11, 2019

ANNEMICHELLE JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
GOLD'S GYM ROCKIES, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          William J. Martinez United States District Judge

         Plaintiff AnneMichelle Johnson (“Plaintiff”) brings this premises liability action against Defendant Gold's Gym Rockies, LLC (“Defendant”) pursuant to the Colorado Premises Liability Act (“CPLA”; Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-21-115) for back injuries she allegedly sustained when she attempted to use a broken rowing machine. (ECF No. 7.) This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (the “Motion”; ECF No. 28). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following factual summary, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, is largely based on the parties' briefs on the Motion and documents submitted in support. These facts are undisputed unless attributed to a party.

         Defendant operates fitness clubs in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (ECF No. 28 at 1.) Among these clubs is “Gold's Gym Colorado Springs (Rustic Hills)” (the “Gym”). (ECF No. 11 at 2, ¶ 3.) Plaintiff joined the Gym on May 25, 2015, by executing the “Gold's Gym Membership Agreement” (the “Membership Agreement”; ECF No. 28-1 at 3-4). (ECF No. 28 at 1.) The Membership Agreement contained two exculpatory provisions which provided, in pertinent part, as follows:

WAIVER OF LIABILITY: MEMBER ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THE USE OF GOLD'S GYM'S FACILITIES [AND] EQUIPMENT . . . INVOLVES AN INHERENT RISK OF PERSONAL INJURY TO MEMBER. . . . MEMBER VOLUNTARILY AGREES TO ASSUME ALL RISKS OF PERSONAL INJURY TO MEMBER . . . AND WAIVES ANY AND ALL CLAIMS OR ACTIONS THAT MEMBER MAY HAVE AGAINST GOLD'S GYM . . . FOR ANY SUCH PERSONAL INJURY . . . INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION: (I) INJURIES ARISING FROM USE OF ANY EXERCISE EQUIPMENT [OR] MACHINES . . .; (III) INJURIES ARISING FROM GOLD'S GYM'S NEGLIGENCE, WHETHER DIRECT OR INDIRECT; (IV) INJURIES . . . RESULTING FROM EXERCISING AT ANY GOLD'S GYM, INCLUDING . . . SPRAINS, BROKEN BONES AND TORN OR DAMAGED MUSCLES, LIGAMENTS OR TENDONS . . . .
ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND INDEMNIFICATION: Member acknowledges that [ ] Gold's Gym does not manufacture any of the fitness or other equipment at its facilities . . .; accordingly, [ ] Gold's Gym . . . shall [not] be held liable for any such defective equipment. . . . Member shall indemnify Gold's Gym . . . and save and hold [it] harmless against and pay on behalf of or reimburse [Gold's Gym] as and when incurred for any losses which [Gold's Gym] may suffer, sustain or become subject to, as a result of, in connection with, relating or incidental to or by virtue of any claim that is the subject of the waiver set forth above.

(The “Exculpatory Provisions”; ECF No. 28-1 at 4 (emphasis in original).)

         On January 5, 2016, Plaintiff was exercising at the Gym when she allegedly injured herself. The following is Plaintiff's account of the events that led up to her alleged injury:

[Plaintiff] was alone in an area of exercise machines for approximately 14 or 15 minutes, and sat down on a seated cable rowing machine as part of her workout. She placed the pin at her regular weight of 60 pounds, sat down on the machine, put her feet in the stirrups, and pulled back vigorously. The weight stack did not move, and she felt a pop in her back.
[Plaintiff reduced the weight to 40 pounds and] pulled again, with the weight stack again not moving. [Plaintiff] then took the pin out, freeing the machine from the weight stack, and pulled again in a seated position. The machine was freed from the weight stack and the bar should have easily moved.
The bar did not move at all, and at that point [Plaintiff] realized the machine was broken. . . . Shortly after this, [Defendant's] employee came over to the seated cable rowing machine and told Plaintiff that the machine was broken and he was there to fix it.

(ECF Nos. 7 at 2, ¶¶ 7-8 & 29 at 2.) As a result of her using the broken rowing machine, Plaintiff alleges that she suffered severe back injuries. (ECF No. 7 at 2, ¶ 9.)

         Plaintiff initially filed this action on December 19, 2017, in El Paso County District Court. (ECF No. 1-1.) On January 8, 2018, Defendant removed the action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff's sole claim against Defendant is brought pursuant to the CPLA, whereby Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached its duty to exercise reasonable care. (ECF No. 7 at 3, ¶ 13.) Defendant moved for summary judgment on August 23, 2018. (ECF No. 28.) In the Motion, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's claim “is barred by the valid and enforceable waiver of liability and assumption of the risk provisions in Plaintiff's Membership ...


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