Licensed Professionals cannot have clients sign releases, it’s not who is offering the services, it is, is the professional licensed by the state.

Licensed people are prohibited by either state law or their ethics from having a client/patient sign a release.

Taylor v. L.A. Fitness International, 2010 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 252; 16 Pa. D. & C.5th 491

This case was reversed and remanded without an opinion by the SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA, Taylor, K. v. LA Fitness International, LLC, 32 A.3d 841; 2011 Pa. Super. LEXIS 4194

Every wonder if the hue and cry over medical malpractice why your doctor does not have you sign a release before any procedure or surgery? A release given to a professional, a licensed person, is void. Doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, almost anyone licensed by the state to perform their jobs, are not allowed to ask their clients for a release. If they do ask, the release is void.

This prohibition against releases flows to those working at the direction of the licensed professional such as nurses, paralegal or in this case, a licensed physical therapist. A release can be used by a personal trainer. A personal trainer is not considered a licensed professional, while a physical therapist is.

Physicians do use Acknowledgement of Risk forms, which in the medical community are called “Informed Consent” forms.

In this case, the plaintiff had signed up at a fitness center and hired a trainer to help her with her recover from an injury. Doing an exercise at the direction of the trainer, she suffered another injury. The plaintiff signed two releases; one for the gym and one for the personal trainer.

The lower court and the appellate court dismissed the claims of the plaintiff based on the two different yet well written releases.

The statement by the court that confused another website was “This Court would like to call attention to the fact that its analysis would have been entirely different if the Plaintiff had been working under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.” The judge in this case discussed the issue between licensed therapists working under the auspices of a physician.

The Court stated, “The public has an interest in assuring that those claiming to be qualified to follow a doctor’s orders are, in fact, so qualified, and accept responsibility for their actions.” The Court stated, “The public has an interest in assuring that those claiming to be qualified to follow a doctor’s orders are in fact so qualified, and accept responsibility for their actions.”

The court went on to explain why this was true.

The reasoning and logic of Leidy is inapplicable to the sub judice because no recognized statewide standard of care exists for health clubs like LA Fitness or health club employees like Defendant Hale. The legislature created the Broad of Physical Therapy to establish rules and procedures to regulate physical therapy throughout the state of Pennsylvania. See 63 P.S. § 1302.1. The Physical Therapy Practice Act, 63 P.S. § 1301 et seq., provides conclusive evidence of the public interest in protecting the health, safety and welfare of those who seek the services of a physical therapist.

The legal issues presented by the decision are clear and not of great import. As the court said:

The Defendants went to great lengths to draft exculpatory clauses that would comply with Pennsylvania law; therefore, this Court was required to enforce the exculpatory clauses contained in the Membership Agreement and Fitness Service Agreement and Release of Liability.

An article on the web about a release case stated that the release was dependent upon who relied upon the release incorrectly.

Do Something

It takes three years (27 months in my case) of law school after four years of undergraduate study to interpret releases. Make sure you are getting your legal advice from a lawyer and make sure a lawyer is writing your release.

Do Not Follow but See Waiver Law in Pennsylvania: Personal Trainer vs. Licensed Physical Therapist

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Outdoor Prolink Newsletter 35

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