Issue: What is the validity of a liability disclaimer under Kentucky law?
Area of Law:
Business Organizations & Contracts, Personal Injury & Negligence
Exculpatory clauses in contracts; Void and unenforceable; Contrary to public policy
411 S.W.2d 686; 122 S.W.2d 487; 599 F. Supp. 612
Under Kentucky law, one cannot by contract avoid liability for tort or common law negligence. French v. Gardeners & Farmers Market Co., 275 Ky. 660, 662, 122 S.W.2d 487, 489 (Ct. App. 1938). Likewise, exculpatory clauses in contracts are generally void and unenforceable if they violate the law or are contrary to public policy. City of Hazard v. Hinch, 411 S.W.2d 686, 689 (Ky. Ct. App. 1967). Further, such contracts are not favored by the law and are strictly construed against the party relying upon them, and clear and explicit language in the contract is required to absolve one from such liability. Id. at 689. See alsoDunn v. Paducah Int’l Raceway, 599 F. Supp. 612, 613 (W.D. Ky. 1984) (stating that as a rule, agreements that attempt to release a person from the consequences of his or her own negligence are invalid).
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