Triathlete’s Widow Can Maintain Wrongful Death Action Against Organizer Despite Triathlete Executing Waiver and Release Form
Published: March 10, 2016
By: Richard Ogrodowski
Following its prior decision in Pisano v. Extendicare Homes, Inc., 77 A.3d 651 (Pa. Super. 2013), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania found in Valentino v. Philadelphia Triathlon, LLC, 2015 WL 9630456, *10 (Pa. Super. Dec. 30, 2015), that a triathlete’s widow could maintain a wrongful death action despite the triathlete executing a waiver and release form.
As with other races, such as marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc., the triathlete was required to register for the event. The registration required the triathlete to pay a fee and execute a waiver and release form.
The triathlete started the swimming portion of the race, but he failed to complete it. Sadly, his body was found the next day in the Schuylkill River.
After the widow filed a wrongful death action, the organizer of the triathlon sought summary judgment on the wrongful death action claiming the waiver and release form barred the lawsuit. The trial court agreed with the organizer. Nevertheless, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed the trial court and concluded that based on Pisanso, the release did not bar the wrongful death action in Pennsylvania as it is an independent cause of action and “is not derivative of the decedent’s rights at [the] time of death.” Id.