United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court Southern
District of Indiana
matter is before the Court on Defendant Hoosier Heights
Indoor Climbing Facility LLC's (“Hoosier
Heights”) Motion for Summary Judgment filed pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 (Filing No. 29). Plaintiff
Alexis Wiemer (“Wiemer”) brought this action
against Hoosier Heights for personal injuries sustained when
he fell during a rock climbing activity. For the following
reasons, the Court GRANTS Hoosier
Heights' Motion for Summary Judgment.
material facts are not in dispute and are viewed in a light
most favorable to Wiemer as the non-moving party. See
Luster v. Ill. Dep't of Corrs., 652 F.3d 726, 728
(7th Cir. 2011).
Heights, located in Carmel, Indiana, is a limited liability
company which owns and operates an indoor rock climbing
facility. The facility is open to the public and is available
for individuals of all skill levels in recreational climbing.
In order to use the facilities, Hoosier Heights requires all
patrons to sign and acknowledge having read and understood a
“Waiver & Release of Liability” form
(“Waiver”). (Filing No. 30-1.) The
Waiver contains: general gym rules, exculpatory clauses
relieving Hoosier Heights of liability, a medical
authorization clause, an acknowledgement that the participant
understands there are inherent risks to rock climbing with
some risks listed, authorization to allow the Hoosier
Heights' staff to use any photographs taken during the
patron's visit for promotional materials, and a signature
line for the participant. (Filing No. 30-1 at
1.) At the top of the Waiver is Hoosier Heights'
logo, address, and the name Hoosier Heights Indoor Climbing.
Waiver states, in relevant part:
RELEASE AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK: In
consideration of being permitted to use the facilities of
Hoosier Heights Indoor Rock Climbing Facility L.L.C., and
mindful of the significant risks involved with the activities
incidental thereto, I, for myself, my heirs, my estate and
personal representative, do hereby release and discharge
Hoosier Heights Indoor Rock Climbing Facility L.L.C.
(hereinafter referred to as “Hoosier Heights”)
from any and all liability for injury that may result from my
use of the facilities of Hoosier Heights Indoor Climbing, and
I do hereby waive and relinquish any and all actions or
causes of action for personal injury, property damage or
wrongful death occurring to myself arising as a result of the
use of the facilities of Hoosier Heights or any activities
incidental thereto, wherever or however such personal injury,
property damage, or wrongful death may occur, whether
foreseen or unforeseen, and for whatever period said
activities may continue. I agree that under no circumstances
will I, my heirs, my estate or my personal representative
present any claim for personal injury, property damage or
wrongful death against Hoosier Heights or its employees,
members, directors, officers, agents and assigns for any of
said causes of actions, whether said causes of action shall
arise by the negligence of any said person or otherwise.
It is the intention of the undersigned individual to exempt
and relieve Hoosier Heights and its employees, members,
directors, officers, agents and assigns from liability for
any personal injury, property damage or wrongful death caused
(Filing No. 30-1.) The Waiver also contained a
provision enumerating the risks inherent in the sport of rock
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: I, the undersigned,
acknowledge that I understand that there are significant
elements of risk associated with the sport of rock climbing,
including those activities that take place indoors. In
addition, I realize those risks also pertain to related
activities such as bouldering, incidental weight training,
team building, fitness training regimens and equipment
purchased or rented at Hoosier Heights. I realize that those
risks may include, but are not limited to, injuries resulting
from falls, equipment failures, entanglements, falling or
dropped items, or the negligence of other climbers,
participants, belayers, spotters, employees, or other users
of the facilities. I acknowledge and understand that the
above list is not inclusive of all possible risks associated
with rock climbing or the use of the Hoosier Heights
facilities and that other unknown and unanticipated risks may
result in injury, illness, paralysis, or death.
Id. In addition to executing the Waiver, Hoosier
Heights requires that all patrons attend and acknowledge
undergoing orientation and training.
visited Hoosier Heights in October 2014. On that date, he
attended a facility orientation, which is an employee-guided
training on how to boulder, belay, and top rope
climb.(Filing No. 30-7.) If a customer
intends to use the “top rope” climbing area of
the facility, they must first complete the “top
rope” orientation and initial and sign the facility
orientation form in the appropriate locations. Following his
orientation and training, Wiemer signed a Waiver form.
Mellencamp (“Mellencamp”), a part-time Hoosier
Heights employee with very little rock climbing experience,
provided Wiemer's orientation and training. (Filing
No. 30-6.) Mellencamp's employee training consisted
solely of reviewing company provided instructional books on
rock climbing and witnessing other employee orientations.
(Filing No. 67-2 at 10-11 and 13-14.) Mellencamp had
no other professional rock climbing experience.
January 14, 2015, Wiemer, along with several co-workers,
including Robert Magnus (“Magnus”), traveled to
Hoosier Heights for recreational rock climbing. Magnus had
also previously visited Hoosier Heights, and Wiemer's and
Magnus' Waivers were already on file and under the terms
of their agreements remained in effect (Filing No.
30-6; Filing No. 30-7). Wiemer was top rope
climbing while Magnus belayed below (Filing No.
30-4). Unfortunately, Wiemer fell while he was climbing.
Incident reports indicate that Wiemer fell approximately
thirty-five feet to the ground in a sitting position due to
Magnus releasing a gate lever while he was belaying for
Wiemer, which caused Wiemer to accelerate to the floor very
quickly. (Filing No. 30-4 at 1-4.) As a ...