Case Comment – Wong v. Lok’s Martial Arts Centre Inc. (2009)

Victor Wong, a 12-year-old boy, was injured after being thrown to the floor during a sparring session at Lok’s Martial Arts Centre.  Wong’s mother, Yen To, had previously attended the class and decided to enroll her sons as well. Before enrolling her sons, Michael Lok (the owner and operator of the Centre) required Yen To sign the following document on behalf of her children:

It is expressly agreed that all exercises and treatments, and use of all facilities shall be undertaken by the student’s sole risk. LOK’S HAPKIDO SCHOOL and its affiliated studio’s (Flying Eagle Hapkido, Flying Tiger Hapkido Studio and any other studio’s) shall not be liable for any injuries, past/future medical complications, any claims, demand, injury, damages, actions or cause of actions whatsoever, including without limitation, those resulting from acts of active or passive negligence on the part of Lok’s Hapkido School. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL INJURIES.

In addition to this waiver, there were also signs and notices posted informing the participants that they were responsible for their own injuries and that Lok’s Martial Arts Centre could not be held liable.

Yen To claimed she did not see these warnings and, despite signing a waiver, she and her son sued the Centre.  Michael Lok filed a motion saying that the lawsuit should be dismissed because Yen To signed a waiver absolving his school of negligence.

Not surprisingly, the court denied Michael Lok’s claim and decided that the lawsuit should go to trial. The judge maintained that a parent cannot waive a child’s right to sue for negligence.

Wong v. Lok’s Martial Arts Centre Inc., 2009 BCSC 1385

Originally published: Centre for Sport and Law Newsletter (2009) Vol. 5(3)

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