Broadley v. Mashpee Neck Marina

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Broadley v. Mashpee Neck Marina
Court 1st Circuit
Citation 471 F.3d 272
Date decided December 22, 2006

Facts

Mr. Broadley moored his boat at the Mashpee Neck Marina ("Mashpee", a boat dealer in Cape Cod, Massachusetts).

1 day, Broadley's foot became trapped between the main dock & the floating dock where his boat was secured. Unfortunately, Broadley injured his ankle and lost the functionality of his ankle for good.

Procedural History

BROADLEY = Plaintiff, Appellant,

v.

MASHPEE NECK MARINA, INC. = Defendant, Appellee.

Broadley sued the marina, Mashpee, for negligence in federal district court in Massachusetts.

The district court narrowed the exculpatory clause; Broadley lost in the district court.

Issues

May courts rescue an overbroad exculpatory clause by treating only part of the clause as enforceable?

Arguments

Mashpee cited the boilerplate exculpatory clause which Broadley had signed.

Broadley cited federal admiralty law, arguing that parties can't completely absolve themselves from ordinary negligence liability.

Holding

Yes. Courts may rescue an over-broad exculpatory clause by treating only part of the clause as enforceable, provided there was no bad faith or unfair dealing.

Judgment

Reversed.

Rule

By signing an Exculpatory Clause (waiver), you surrender your right to sue before knowing if any harm will occur. However, some exculpatory clauses may not be legally enforceable.

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