Bayshore garage collapse: Customers asked to sign waiver for own cars removing liability

Car owners say they signed the waiver before ever seeing their vehicle
Posted at 5:57 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 17:15:02-05

GLENDALE, Wis. — On Thursday, crews spent the day removing some of the remaining cars inside the parking garage at Bayshore Mall. Customers whose cars were stuck in that garage for a week, contacted TMJ4's I-Team after they said they had to sign a release waiver before getting their vehicles back.

"It was really nerve-wracking. We didn't know if it was gonna be months, two months, three months, a week," Jenna Bower said.

Bower was one of the many whose car was stuck inside the Bayshore garage during the partial collapse last week. She and others told the I-Team they were able to get their cars back Thursday, but not as easy as they anticipated.

"I got a copy of what the waiver they wanted us to sign looked like the night before. So, I was able to read it over, and I actually showed it to a lawyer and he advised me not to sign it," Bower explained.

The I-Team talked to three people whose cars were stuck. They all said they were asked to sign a waiver that states they've had an opportunity to perform a satisfactory inspection of the vehicle prior to its removal. In addition, if signed, that person gives up their right to sue Bayshore for any property damage sustained to the vehicle while it was in the mall's possession.

A full copy of that waiver can be seen here:

"We signed the waivers before we had the inspection on our vehicle," Bower said.

It's something law expert, Joe Newbold, said he doesn't recommend.

"What's really unusual in this situation isn't the signing of the waivers, people sign waivers all the time. What's really unusual is being forced to sign a waiver, if it's true, before receiving your vehicle back. That's not something I'd advise my clients to do," Newbold explained.

Newbold's the head of litigation at O'Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong and Laing in Milwaukee.

"If they're not able to get their car back without signing a waiver, there's a pretty good argument that they've signed that waiver under duress and it's not enforceable," Newbold said.

Newbold said it's crucial to read over all waivers and even to have an attorney look over it before signing. However, if you don't have that option, he said, you can cross things out.

"You're not going to be bound by whatever you've crossed out. It's a little bit tricky to assume a consumer to go through a waiver, to understand everything, and cross out everything they agree or don't agree to," Newbold added.

Bower and others the I-Team talked to said they crossed out the entire bottom portion, which Newbold said, was the most problematic part. It's the section in the waiver that said you've inspected your car and that Bayshore isn't responsible for damages.

"I get that the company wants to get people's contact information, but to demand they sign that, seems like a little bit of a stretch," Newbold said.

The I-Team was in contact with Bayshore's PR team to ask them why they were having car owners sign this waiver. They didn't answer that. Instead, they said the media can cover the event Saturday, which is the removal of the rest of the customers' cars. The following Monday, a PR representative for Bayshore sent us this statement:

"Vehicle owners were given the option to sign a waiver either in the office or with a Bayshore staff member at the vehicle before handing over the keys. Bayshore ensured that everyone had an opportunity to check their vehicle before handing over the keys to us and signing any waiver. We ensured that they were satisfied with the condition of their vehicle and that the vehicle had no damage. Vehicle owners were given the opportunity to modify the waiver if they desired to do so."