Third Circuit dunks jet skiers

Yurchak v. Atkinson & Mullen Travel, Inc. (3d Cir. (Pa.) Oct. 30, 2006).  Customers of a travel agent bought a vacation package to Mexico that included air transportation, lodging, meals and “non-motorized activities” at the hotel.  During the vacation, one of the customers was injured while operating a rented jet ski in the ocean.  The customers sued the travel agent, pleading numerous causes of action, but essentially alleging that the agent had breached its duty to warn them of the dangers of jet skiing (i.e., the well-hidden dangers of hurtling across the ocean at 60 miles per hour while seated on a open, brakeless watercraft).

Affirming the trial court, the Third Circuit held that the travel agent had no duty to warn the customers because it had not booked the jet skiing excursion, it did not own or control the Mexican company that rented the jet skis, and it had had the customers sign contracts disclaiming its liability for the negligent acts of third parties beyond the travel agent’s control.

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