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Felder and Turner Succeed in Exonerating Water Craft Rental Companies in Back-to-Back LOLA Defense

January 18, 2023

Otis Felder (Partner-Los Angeles, CA) and Vladyslava Turner (Associate-Los Angeles, CA) were successful in obtaining an order exonerating a parasailing company that initiated a Limitation of Liability Act (LOLA) proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Santa Ana. The claimants alleged that they suffered severe back injuries and emotional distress when the vessel's engines failed resulting in dropping them in the ocean near Catalina. The vessel owner pointed to the liability waivers the claimants had signed assuming the risk. The federal court exonerated the owner on January 11, 2023, finding no valid claims had been presented.

This case follows another exoneration order in a LOLA case obtained by Otis and Vlada in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on December 29, 2022, arising from a Jet Ski allision on Mission Bay in San Diego. Again, the liability waiver was important in showing assumption of risk along with an indemnity provision by the renter.

In February 2023, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will take up the issue of the validity of such liability waivers with respect to vessel owners when transporting passengers. Otis has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Marine Recreation Association seeking to continue to uphold liability waivers involving marine recreational activities, which has proven successful in the recent LOLA cases.

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