Contractual Exculpatory Clauses
Sometimes a point of contention in breach of contract disputes, an exculpatory clause/provision in a contract is one which releases a person from his or her own future negligence. While these provisions are disfavored in Missouri, they are not per se void. Alack v. Vic Tanny Int’l of Missouri, Inc., 923 S.W.2d 330, 334 (Mo. 1996).
Such provisions are strictly construed. To be enforceable, the relevant contract language must be “clear, unambiguous, unmistakable, and conspicuous language in order to release a party from his or her own future negligence.” Id. at 337. The language must clearly and explicitly state the nature and extent of the waiver. Id. at 330. In evaluating whether this criteria is met, Courts generally require that the words “negligence,” “fault” or other equivalents be conspicuously used. Abbott v. Epic Landscape Productions, L.C., 361 S.W.3d 13, 17 (Mo. Ct. App. 2011).