Although it’s a common warning, it is one that bears repeating: always keep important documents in a safe place. This common admonition is at the heart of a recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Sanchez v. Atlanta Union Mission Corporation. At issue in Sanchez was whether a contractual provision signed by the plaintiff prior to his injury had released the defendant from liability.
The plaintiff in Sanchez was injured while performing a work assignment at Atlanta Union Mission Corporation (“Atlanta Mission”) as part of a substance abuse rehabilitation program in which he was enrolled. Specifically,the plaintiff was assigned to disassemble and move several steel-framed hospital beds from the main floor of Atlanta Mission to the basement. However, he was not given instructions on how to best move the beds, lights for use in the basement, or any safety equipment. During the course of his task, the plaintiff was struck in the head by a bed headboard and sustained head and neck injuries that required several days of hospitalization. After the plaintiff brought suit, the Atlanta Mission moved for summary judgment, arguing that a contractual exculpatory clause in the Personal Development Agreement that the plaintiff signed when he enrolled in the Mission’s substance abuse rehabilitation program released Atlanta Mission from liability. The trial court granted the motion, leading the plaintiff to file an appeal.