Moore v. Hartley Motors
36 P.3d 628 (Alaska 2001)

  • Moore bought an ATV from Arctic Cat. They recommended that she take Hartley’s training class on how to ride the ATV, which she did.
    • Moore signed a consent and release form absolving Hartley of any liability for injuries incurred during the course.
  • Moore was thrown from the ATV during the training course and sued Hartley, Arctic Cat and the salesman for negligence for failing to provide a safe training environment.
  • The Trial Court found for Hartley in summary judgment. Moore appealed.
    • Hartley argued that Moore was barred from recovery due to her express assumption of the risk.
  • The Appellate Court reversed and remanded the case for trial.
    • The Appellate Court found that Hartley did not “have a decisive advantage in bargaining strength due to the essential nature of the service.”
      • In Tunkl v. Regents of University of California (60 Cal.2d 92 (1963)) it was held that when one party is providing an essential service (such as medical help), then it is unconscionable to ask for a liability waiver.
    • The Court found that, upon close reading of the waiver Moore signed, that she was only waiving liability for damage from “unavoidable and inherent risks” from riding an ATV. The waiver did not explicitly waive liability for Hartley’s negligence. So if Hartley was negligent then they could still be liable.
      • Hartley had a duty to avoid unnecessary risks.
      • The Court found that whether Hartley was negligent or not was a factual issue and must be decided by a jury. Therefore summary judgment is not appropriate.