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[A party may not completely absolve itself of liability for all forms of negligence. See Bisso v. Inland Waterways Corp., 349 U.S. 85, 75 S. Ct. 629, 99 L. Ed. 911 (1955), and La Esperanza de P.R., Inc. v. Perez Y Cia de P.R., Inc., 124 F.3d 10 (1st Cir. 1997). 


Bisso could be read as laying down a flat rule, applicable to all cases, forbidding clauses that entirely exculpate a party for its own simple negligence. The Court applied the 'judicial rule, based on public policy, invalidating contracts releasing towers from all liability for their negligence,' and noted that '[t]his rule is merely a particular application to the towage business of a general rule long used by courts and legislatures to prevent enforcement of release-from-negligence contracts.' Bisso, 349 U.S. at 90. However, Bisso focused on towing contracts and the special threat of 'monopolistic compulsions.' 349 U.S. at 91. The Court also cited case law forbidding exculpatory clauses in common law relationships where unequal bargaining power is presumed (e.g., utilities and their customers). 349 U.S. at 90-91. Thus Bisso can easily be read as limited to relationships where ...

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