Updated: Strava changes its terms and conditions, users required to agree not to sue company

Strave says change in small print not related to lawsuit from family of man killed while trying to beat 'record'

by Simon_MacMichael   June 21, 2012  

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GPS tracker provider Strava has emailed all its users changing its Terms and Conditions to require them to undertake not to sue the company in connection with claims arising as a result of their "athletic activities."

Yesterday, we reported that the San Francisco-based company is being sued by the family of William ‘Kim’ Flint from nearby Oakland who was killed while trying to regain his ‘record’ logged on the site on a downhill stretch of road.

According to Strava the fact that the changes to its Terms and Conditions, including the new undertaking not to sue, were made public at around the same time as the Flint lawsuit was purely coincidental. In a statement to road.cc exlaining the reasoning behind the changes to its Terms and Condistions Strava said:

"Prior to the June 18, 2012 complaint filed against us, we updated our terms and conditions to reflect our expanded product offering and services.  The changes to our terms were posted live on Strava.com on June 13 before we had any information about the lawsuit. Our iPhone and Android apps were updated shortly after that. That is why public notification occurred on June 19, after the lawsuit was filed."

Previously, Strava’s terms and conditions stated (in capitals):

“You expressly agree that your athletic activities, which generate the content you post or seek to post on the site (included but not limited to cycling) carry certain inherent risks of bodily injury or death and that you voluntarily assume all known and unknown risks associated with these activities even if caused in whole or in part by the action, inaction or negligence of Strava. You agree to release Strava from any and all liability connected with your athletic activities.”

The wording in the new terms and conditions now states (again in capitals):

"You expressly agree that your athletic activities, which generate the content you post or seek to post on the site (including but not limited to cycling) carry certain inherent and significant risks of property damage, bodily injury or death and that you voluntarily assume all known and unknown risks associated with these activities even if caused in whole or part by the action, inaction or negligence of Strava or by the action, inaction or negligence of others. You also expressly agree that Strava does not assume responsibility for the inspection, supervision, preparation, or conduct of any race, contest, group ride or event that utilizes Strava’s site."

It goes on to say:

“You expressly agree to release Strava, its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, representatives, employees, partners and licensors (the “released parties”) from any and all liability connected with your athletic activities, and promise not to sue the released parties for any claims, actions, injuries, damages, or losses associated with your athletic activities.”

Of course, there can often be differences between the terms a company seeks to impose by way of contract, and what it’s actually allowed to do by law.

In English law, for example, in a contract with a consumer, a business cannot seek to exclude liability for death of injury.

Strava’s terms and conditions expressly state that the user consents and submits “to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue in the state and federal courts located in Santa Clara County, California for any legal proceedings” in connection with their use of the site.

The case does flag up another issue often overlooked nowadays – whereas before the digital age, private individuals were seldom called upon to sign a contract, doing so only in matters related mainly to housing, finance and insurance and their employment, nowadays they are doing so every time they check a box saying that they ‘agree to the terms and conditions’ of a piece of software.

We’d hazard a guess that while most people might read a contract letter from a new employer closely, they won’t do the same when it comes to an app they’ve just downloaded to their mobile phone.

Another aspect of the online world of course is that nowadays we regularly buy goods and services from overseas in a way that simply would not have been possible a few years ago; while in the case of Mr Flint it is questionable whether the courts will find that Strava was responsible for his death, there could be other circumstances where an overseas retailer or manufacturer, for example, could find that a contractual provision seeking to exclude its potential liability for death or injury could find that thrown out by an English court.

13 user comments

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Such a sad tale but very difficult to see how Strava are at fault.

IMO you judge the road as you see it, you use segments on the site as a guide and you want to beat your mates... but not endangering your life to do so.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1240 posts]
20th June 2012 - 14:55

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My car sounds awesome above 4000 rpm. The makers know that, so they are clearly encouraging me to rev the engine and drive fast. I should sue.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3080 posts]
20th June 2012 - 15:25

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This could be almost any headline from the USA.

"Person injured doing something stupid of their own volition, blames somebody else"

It's tragic for the guy's family, but he DID know the risks and he died doing something he loved. They should honour his life. Instead they try to turn his death into cash.

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
20th June 2012 - 20:17

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I work for Strava and just want to clarify the timing of this update. Prior to the June 18, 2012 complaint filed against us, we updated our terms and conditions to reflect our expanded product offering and services. The changes to our terms were posted live on Strava.com on June 13 before we had any information about the lawsuit. Our iPhone and Android apps were updated shortly after that. That is why public notification occurred on June 19, after the lawsuit was filed.

posted by RachaelParsons [1 posts]
20th June 2012 - 22:53

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notfastenough wrote:
My car sounds awesome above 4000 rpm. The makers know that, so they are clearly encouraging me to rev the engine and drive fast. I should sue.

I particularly like the noise my freewheel makes at 100km/h. Big Grin

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
20th June 2012 - 23:00

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RachaelParsons wrote:
I work for Strava and just want to clarify the timing of this update. Prior to the June 18, 2012 complaint filed against us, we updated our terms and conditions to reflect our expanded product offering and services. The changes to our terms were posted live on Strava.com on June 13 before we had any information about the lawsuit. Our iPhone and Android apps were updated shortly after that. That is why public notification occurred on June 19, after the lawsuit was filed.

Thanks for the clarification - I like using Strava, keep up the good work!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3080 posts]
21st June 2012 - 13:07

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RachaelParsons wrote:

Thanks for the clarification - I like using Strava, keep up the good work!

+1

It's unfortunate but cannot see how anyone could try to sue under the circumstances. Keep up the good work Strava and ride safe / within your limits everyone else

posted by Carvers [41 posts]
21st June 2012 - 20:47

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Sad as this is - people are responsible for their own actions.

Suint isn't going to bring him back; it's just going to cause other people problems. He did something really stupid, accept that & move on.

There's something wrong when the default action of people is to sue - the only winners are lawyers (who should only be used in extreme situations).

posted by niico [2 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 12:07

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Blood-sniffing lawyers and greedy relatives; a vile combination.

posted by Cauld Lubter [117 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 23:22

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Big surprise that most of the comments here are lawsuit bashing- since we're all a bunch of bike weenies... but filing suit for what they see as fault is their right. The courts will decide if there is fault. How about everyone let them do just that?
Seems like Strava may not have thought the whole process through very well if promoting competition on descents seemed like a good idea. Whether or not there is negligence or malice is another matter entirely...

posted by urbanadventure [3 posts]
23rd June 2012 - 0:12

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I recently broke both my arms in a Mtn Bike crash (nowt to do with Strava). It gives complete strangers the right to talk to you about your injury weather you want them to or not. This has shown clearly that there are two types of people in this world

Type A ask how I came to have double casts, express sympathy and ask how I am coping.

Type B ask how I came to have double casts, express sympathy and ask who I'm sueing!

My single sample non-exhaustive study has shown that around 25% of people think of sueing not coping when an injury occurs. They all receive a free piece of my mind.

posted by mattbibbings [102 posts]
23rd June 2012 - 7:57

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urbanadventure wrote:
filing suit for what they see as fault is their right. The courts will decide if there is fault. How about everyone let them do just that?

because that ends up turning into this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearson_v._Chung

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7311 posts]
23rd June 2012 - 8:21

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You can't be forced to waive your right to justice if the 3rd party is at fault regardless of what you sign. If Strava were seen to be at fault then they will be in trouble. How I ma not sure but I can see some scenarios of this were they may get into trouble.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [117 posts]
19th October 2012 - 21:51

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