One New York City woman has filed a lawsuit against the Midtown Manhattan restaurant Johnny Utah's after being injured by the establishment's biggest feature: a mechanical bull.
The lawsuit alleges that Jocelyn Burmeister was visibly intoxicated when restaurant employees allowed her to ride the bull. In attempting to do so, Ms. Burmeister fell and tore her ACL. Her lawsuit seeks damages related to the medical care incurred and other damages she suffered.
History of Bull Suits
Some folks might balk at this type of lawsuit, and others might be quick to comment: "I bet she signed a waiver." But this same restaurant has faced similar claims in the past, just like many other establishments with mechanical bulls, or other amusement park-like attractions. In fact, the same attorney handling Ms. Burmeister's case successfully handled one of those prior claims against Johnny Utah's.
The injuries suffered as a result of mechanical bulls and amusement park rides can vary from minor bumps and bruises to seriously debilitating injuries requiring a life-time of medical care and even death. However, not all injuries, even the most severe, will be compensable in a lawsuit. Sometimes, a liability waiver will be valid.
Can I Sign a Waiver While Drunk?
Waivers can be enforceable in many situations, even while a person is drunk, such as when a person signs one before becoming drunk. However, when a person is visibly intoxicated, it raises serious questions as to whether or not they can sign a legally binding agreement. While courts may be more willing to enforce contracts signed while drunk, liability waivers and releases may be a different matter entirely.
Generally, for a contract or agreement to be binding, the parties must have a "meeting of the minds." This basically means that the two parties have to understand what is being bargained for in the agreement. When a person is drunk, this may not be possible, and could render an agreement worthless. However, this doesn't mean your drunk online shopping binge is voidable, but it likely does mean that the midnight roller-derby probably needs to make sure everyone signs their liability waivers while sober.