The Law School Authority

Winterstein v. Wilcom Case Brief

Summary of Winterstein v. Wilcom, Ct of special App Maryland, [1972]

Defenses – Plaintiff’s Conduct; Assumption of Risk-Express

Relevant Facts: Pl Winterstein was injured when the car he was racing struck an obstacle in the racetrack of the df.  Df employees were stationed to watch for obstructions but failed to do so.  Df and pl entered into a release of liability before the race began.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the release is invalid as a result of public policy or as a matter of law and whether the risk involved was outside the release?

Court’s Holding: No and no

Procedure: D Ct dismissed each claim, pl appealed; judgment affirmed.

Law or Rule(s): Parties may expressly agree in advance that one party is under no obligation of care for the benefit of the other, and shall not be liable for the consequences of conduct which would otherwise be negligent.

Court Rationale: There was not even the slightest disadvantage in bargaining power between the parties.  Pl was under no compulsion, economic or otherwise, to race his car.  He engaged in the race b/c he wanted to, this put him at no bargaining disadvantage.  Df’s business has none of the characteristics of one affected with the public interest.  Df’s omissions and commissions were only characterized as careless, not wanton, wilful, or reckless.  Each release was merely an agreement between person relating entirely to their private affairs.  In absence of legislative mandates, they were not void as against public policy.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The release should be void as it goes against public policy; the services of df’s employees was an indispensable service without which deprived the pl of bargaining power.

Defendant’s Argument: The law allows private individuals to contract as they see fit.




Copyright © 2001-2012 4LawSchool.com. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy HotChalk Partner