Bar Bucks Claim Over Mechanical Bull Injury

     AUSTIN (CN) – A man who broke his back while riding a mechanical bull at a popular honky-tonk cannot sue the bar’s owners, a Texas appeals court ruled.
     Revel Thom rode the mechanical bull at Rebel’s Honky Tonk in Auston even though he had suffered chronic back pain for the last several years.
     Thom signed a waiver before getting on the bull, a ride that ended with him fracturing the T-12 and L-1 vertebrae in his back.
     He sued the bar; its owner, Rainbow Cattle Company, and that company’s president, Zach Truesdell, two years ago in Travis County Court.
     But a Travis County judge sided with the bar at summary judgment, and the Third District appeals court affirmed Friday.
     Thom had “no excuse” being oblivious to the risks associated with riding the machine, according to the nine-page decision. He contractually assumed the risk when he signed a release before riding.
     “Thom’s argument that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on this ground is unpersuasive,” Justice Jeff Rose wrote for a three-judge panel. “Having found that Rebel’s conclusively established its affirmative defenses of release and assumption of risk, we affirm the district court’s summary judgment.”
     The pre-injury release of a party’s own negligence is an “extraordinary shifting of the risk,” Rose said, citing the Texas Supreme Court’s fair-notice requirements regarding such releases.
     Rebel’s release satisfied conspicuousness of fair-notice requirements in place, and Rebel’s also proved its burden of Thom’s actual knowledge.
     “He claimed he felt rushed into signing the release, but there is nothing in the record to indicate that he was hurried, intimidated, or forced to sign the release without reading it,” Rose wrote. “And Thom further agreed in his deposition that there was nothing to stop him from saying, ‘Hold on a second. I need to read this.'”
     “Thom understood the effect of signing Rebel’s release, and as such Thom had actual knowledge of the agreement, making the release enforceable even if the fair-notice elements were lacking,” the decision states. “Even if Thom chose not to read the release, the record reflects his understanding that what he signed was a waiver for possible injury, proving that this release served its principal function and that Thom had actual knowledge of it.”
     Rose also found that the release protects Rainbow Cattle and Truesdell even though they are not explicitly named on the release.
     The release covers them “because it expressly lists Rebel’s Honky Tonk and its ‘owners,'” Rose wrote. “It does not merely refer to an unlimited, general class of potential defendants.”
     “This release’s reference to the owners of Rebel’s Honky Tonk is sufficient to identify Rainbow Cattle Company because Rainbow Cattle Company’s identity and its connection with the activity for which Thom signed this release is not in doubt,” he added.
     Rebel’s is located on Austin’s popular 5th Street in the Warehouse District.

%d bloggers like this: