Joe Bob promised his wife he would aerate the lawn this weekend. So, Joe Bob hoes to Eddie’s Rentals and signs an equipment lease for the day for a grass dethatcher, sometimes called a verti-cutter. The contract contains this clause: “Lessor disclaims all liability arising from injuries caused by use of this equipment.” Joe Bob, with other impatient husbands standing in line behind him, initials the rental contract and hands over his credit card. A yard man helps him load the machine into his Suburban.
So, off goes Joe Bob. He unloads the dethatcher and gets ready to rumble. On his third yank, the starter pull cord snaps, putting out Joe Bob’s eye and lacerating his lip. Joe Bob sues Eddie’s for his injuries and for punitive damages, too.
Can the disclaimer in Eddie’s rental contract be enforced? Why or why not?
Did Joe Bob agree to this disclaimer by signing the rental contract at the counter?
What about Joe Bob’s claim for damages: can he get compensatory damages? Can he get punitive damages?