Florida Panel Advances Bill to Restore Parental Liability Waivers for Kids

March 31, 2009

A Florida House panel moved to override a recent state Supreme Court decision that blocked enforcement of a liability waiver signed by a parent on behalf of his child.

The Florida Supreme Court in December held in Kirton v. Fields that a parent does not have the authority to execute a pre-injury release of liability on behalf of a minor child when the release involves participation in a commercial activity.

The court ruling allowed the parent of a 14-year old boy to sue a commercial enterprise that operated a track for all-terrain vehicles. The track operator required patrons to sign liability waivers. The boy was killed in an accident on the track.

Part of the court’s reasoning was that Floriuda has no specific statute on parental rights to enforce liability waivers and that this absence of a statute precluded enforcement of such releases by a parent on behalf of a minor child.

The court also declared that “public policy concerns cannot allow parents to execute pre-injury releases on behalf of minor children.”

The Civil Justice and Courts Policy Committee has now approved (8 to 1) a bill (HB363) to reinstate the enforcement of liability waivers.

The House bill expressly authorizes natural guardians, on behalf of their minor children, to waive any claim or cause of action to the same extent that an adult may do on his or her own behalf.

The bill requires such waivers to be strictly enforced against the party claiming to be relieved of liability, as long as the intention to be relieved of liability is made “clear and unequivocal” in the contract.

A similar bill (SB 886) awaits consideration by a Senate committee.

Topics Florida

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