Re. Liabiltiiy Waiver

Well…Here goes! This is my first post on this site. My topic does not fit neatly into either “News and Announcements” or “Site Feedback”, but what the hey! Here goes!

At Rodeo City Repair Cafe in Ellensburg, WA, we are discussing whether to include a liability waiver on the reverse side of our repair project sign-up form. We have a copy of the stock waiver supplied by RC but it seems wordy and perhaps intimidating for our clients. What’s the accepted “best practice” with regard to liability waivers? We’d like to hear what other RC outfits are doing about this issue. Do you use a liability waiver? Are you using the stock RC waiver or do you have your own version?

@pcantieni You know I love this topic …

[Caveat: I’m not a lawyer. Nothing I say should be considered legal advice.]

I think everyone should be using a waiver. Laws vary by state but regardless, the act of reading and signing a waiver helps to set expectations. In my experience, courts only get involved when people have mismatched expectations. But also, torts are real. Torts are whenever someone is harmed or suffers a loss. [Tortes, on the other hand, with an ‘e’, are tasty.] As an RC organizer, you have a duty to limit liability exposure for yourself, your volunteers, and your host.

Repair Café house rules Jan 2020
This is the latest form that I used in our 2020 events. It is based on a version provided by the Repair Café International Foundation (RCI) in Amsterdam. RCI has never claimed to have had there document reviewed by lawyers. My version is slightly Americanized from there’s and uses more of our nomenclature, such as “coach” which is not a term used by RCI.

This document was originall in MS-Word. I converted it to Google Docs for sharing. It is intended to be printed double-sided so you get two forms for each piece of 8.5x11.

houserules-13March2020
This version was never finalized. One of our guests is a retired lawyer with the city of Durham. She was helping me revise the waiver to be simpler and more direct but we never finished. You can tell from the file name “13March2020” that we were soon distracted by other things.

In March 2019, John Wackman shared this waiver on the US Organizers Facebook group.

At the time he said it had been drafted by the city attorney for Pound Ridge, NY.

RC Volunteer Sign-in and Waiver.docx (12.5 KB)

So this waiver, posted by John W. (rest his soul), addresses a different liability concern; repair volunteers. We here at Rodeo City had never considered that angle and I’ve not come across any mention of it before. Our litigious society is endlessly creative in it’s generation of new legal worries. Is it common for RC groups to ask their volunteers to sign a liability waiver?

We typically do (through Zero Waste WA’s Fix-it Fairs) also, you should touch base with the other Washington folks like Terra Heilman in Clark Co. Don Shriner can post something on the WA Repair Economy listserv (she’s on there or I can share her email address separately). You’re also welcome to message me directly. This would be good to see what the other folks in our neck of the woods do re: volunteers liability.

Terra sent me to the page on the Clark Co. website showing their liability waiver. They apparently had a local attorney write their waiver. It’s for clients, not volunteers. She didn’t mention having a waivers for volunteers. 2020 RCC client LIABILITY AND MEDIA RELEASE.docx (255.3 KB)