UO reconsidering draconian liability waiver for T&F officials

2/7/2017 update:

From: “Oregon Track & Field”
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2017 21:45:58 -0800
Subject: Waiver Update
To: Oregon Ducks

Dear Oregon Track & Field Officials,

Thank you for your emails and valuable feedback today regarding the
waiver that was part of the online officials database. Because of
your input, I am working within the University of Oregon to address
the concerns you have shared. I will provide an update as soon as
possible, but please allow me a couple of days to work on this.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. We value your
contributions to our program and appreciate your communication on
this issue.



Interestingly, the waiver form for other UO volunteers at https://safety.uoregon.edu/sites/safety1.uoregon.edu/files/volunteer_form_09_01_2016.pdf explicitly exempts volunteers from having to waive their right to sue UO if they experience damage or injury “caused by the negligence or intentional acts” of UO:

Please Read Carefully In consideration of being able to volunteer for the University and University providing liability coverage as detailed previously, I, for myself, my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, release and forever discharge the State of Oregon, Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon, University of Oregon and their respective officers, employees, members, agents, and volunteers (the “Released Parties”) from any and all demands or claims for damage or injury, from any cause of suit or action, known or unknown, that I may have against the Released Parties and from all liability under the Oregon Tort Claims Act, ORS 30.260-300, for any and all harm or damage to my health in any manner resulting from or arising out of my volunteer activities that is not caused by the negligence or intentional acts of Released Parties.

I don’t know why they wanted the Track and Field volunteers to give up everything.

2/6/2017: UO wants Track and Field volunteers to sign strict liability waiver & pay lawyers

A longtime volunteer at UO track events forwards the following email, regarding the new UO policy to require their volunteers to sign a liability waiver:

I refuse to sign a waiver of all my legal rights “to be permitted to participate in any way” as an unpaid volunteer in multi-million dollar enterprise that (as we are repeatedly informed) could not function without our participation. As your email states, this is a new requirement that has not previously been demanded from track volunteers. As a lawyer, I recognize and understand what is clearly corporate counsel’s effort to “tie up loose ends” by forcing us to sign such a waiver, an effort that I view as a slap in the face of all of those who literally make this program possible.

I don’t mind standing for hours in sideways rain in April or 95 degree heat in July to support track and field. However, I will not “release, waive, discharge, and covenant not to sue the State of Oregon, the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon, and the University of Oregon (collectively, hereafter called the “University”), their officers, employees, and agents from liability from any and all claims including the negligence of the University, its officers, employees and agents, resulting in personal injury, accidents or illnesses (including death), property loss, and damages arising from, but not limited to, participation” for my unpaid volunteer work. While I understand there are insurance policies similar to E&O or professional liability insurance to protect the University from any liable acts. I reserve the right to reject the waiver.

This waiver ignores and inverts the idea that it is we who are providing the free service for the University rather than the University providing us some benefit for which we are supposed to be thankful and thus give away our legal rights.

I don’t mind giving my “irrevocabl[e] consent to and authorize the University of Oregon to videotape, film and record me” since I’m not particularly photogenic, but if I am injured by some act of negligence of the University, I expect to retain the full range of my legal options which the waiver you demand I sign would eliminate.

I have tried to complete the sign up form without consenting to the waiver, but your “new system” prevents this. I have volunteered with the track program for nine years and had expected to be doing so for many more but if this what you now demand for my free labor, I – with great regret – must inform you that you just lost at least one volunteer, and I suspect many more.

I hope you will reconsider and retract this new policy and act in a manner that respects the volunteers who make the Oregon Track program function.

If you google volunteer liability release site:edu you’ll find that these releases aren’t uncommon. But UO’s language is particularly mean-spirited:

I also agree to INDEMNIFY, DEFEND, AND HOLD the University and its officers, employees, and agents HARMLESS from any and all claims, actions, suits, procedures, costs, expenses, damages and liabilities, including attorney’s fees brought as a result of my involvement in the Activity and to reimburse them for any such expenses incurred.

No need to shout, we get the message. If you volunteer for UO and they are negligent and you get hurt, our General Counsel’s Office will want you to pay UO’s legal expenses.

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7 Responses to UO reconsidering draconian liability waiver for T&F officials

  1. Sports Fan says:

    The spirit of volunteerism runs almost parallel to the spirit of financial inequality in college athletics. Both will die bloody deaths.

  2. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Sounds like the UO legal machine needs some cultural competence training in ordinary human tact.

    Personally, I would probably tell the track program to go fuck itself!

  3. Eugenenative says:

    Isn’t this just all about insurance rates? Get all the volunteers to sign waivers and the insurance coverage for track and field meets goes down by a certain percentage.

    But is the loss of free volunteers (and bad publicity) worth the savings?

    It’d be interesting to know what the number is.

  4. Bill Mullin says:

    I worked as a volunteer hurdle crew member and chief for 17 years. I can not believe that Bowerman or Delinger would allow this insult to us. Shame on you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just lost another volunteer.

  6. Anthony Hardt says:

    Shame on Oregon T&F! I’ve been attending meets since Pre’s time and the volunteers at Hayward are top-notch. Treat them right!

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