Court in New York Ski Case Rules that Parental Waivers Allowing Minors to Ski are Valid & Enforceable

By Doyice Cotten

Bryan DiFrancesco’s son was injured while on a ski lift with a ski instructor employed by the defendant Win-Sum Ski Corp [DBA Holiday Valley, Inc.]. The uncle of the boy had signed a waiver of liability and assumption of inherent risks so that the 5 year-old could ski. The boy fell from the lift and sustained severe injuries. The father subsequently filed a suit in federal court against the ski resort on behalf of the boy (DiFrancesco v.

State Parental Waiver Law Summarized — Part VIII

 

By Doyice Cotten

This is the eighth of an eight-part series on the enforcement of parental waivers.

As you should have surmised from the previous posts, parental waiver law varies by state. One law that remains the same in all states is that a contract signed only by the minor is unenforceable and non-binding, with a few possible exceptions (e.g., for necessities, when emancipated, when approved by the court).

I mentioned in an earlier post that prior to 1990,

WAIVERS FOR MINOR PARTICIPANTS: Broad Statutes Relating to Enforcement of Parental Waivers — Part III

 

By Doyice Cotten

This is the third of an eight-part series on the enforceability of liability waivers of negligence when the sport or recreation participant is a minor.

 

Statutes Allowing Parental Waivers for Negligence

Three states have statutes that specifically state that parental waivers are enforceable under certain circumstances. These are Alaska, Colorado, and Minnesota.

Alaska

A.S. 09.65-292 [2012] provides the following:

(a) Except as provided in (b) of this section,

Delaware Court Enforces Motocross Parental Waiver for Negligence but Not for Recklessness

By Doyice Cotten

 

In 2013, Tommy Lynam (age 13), was riding a motocross bicycle at Blue Diamond Motocross near New Castle. While riding, Tommy rode off a jump, made a hard landing, and was unable to stop in time before colliding with a large metal shipping container. Lynam sued alleging negligence and recklessness (Lynam v. Blue Diamond Motocross LLC, 2016).

 

Lynam’s father had signed a waiver entitled “Parental Consent, Release and Waiver of Liability,

Parental Waiver Fails to Protect in Oklahoma

By Doyice Cotten

Makenzie Wethington, sixteen years-old, wanted to learn to skydive (Wethington v. Swainson, 2015). She and her parents, went to Pegasus Airsport Center to learn how. She and her parents signed a waiver of liability as part of the registration process. She underwent an instruction course that included determining the condition of the parachute after deployment, gaining control and resolving any deployment problems and, if necessary, activating her emergency parachute.

Parental Waiver Ambiguity Caused by Failure to Specify that Both Parent’s and Minor’s Rights Are Waived

By Doyice Cotten

In a 2013 California case (Vahedy v. Remigio), a 16 year-old camper was injured while being transported by a camp volunteer back to the Jews for Jesus headquarters for the final night of the camp. Cecilia Vahedy’s father had signed a “Medical Authorization and Liaibilty Release.” There were a number of issues in the case, but the one addressed in this post regards the possible ambiguity created when the waiver fails to clearly specify that the parent is waiving both the parent’s and the minor participant’s right to sue.

First Parental Waiver Enforced in North Carolina

By Doyice Cotten

In Kelly v. United States of America (2014), the first parental waiver was enforced in North Carolina by a U.S. District Court. Morgan Kelly, a 15-year-old girl, was a cadet in the JROTC program at her high school. She attended a JROTC orientation visit to a United States Marine Corps Base after one of her parents signed a waiver of liability on her behalf. She was injured and this suit was filed.

Mississippi Parental Waiver Law

By Doyice Cotten

Many businesses and organizations, like Mississippi State University, require parents to sign a liability waiver on behalf of their minor child or children. However, Mississippi law on the enforceability of such waivers is unclear.

The Mississippi Supreme Court stated in Khoury v. Saik (1948) that “It is well settled that the infant can waive none of his rights.”  It went on to say “Minors can waive nothing. In the law they are helpless,

Oregon Addresses a Parental Waiver for the First Time

By Doyice Cotten

Prior to this case, Oregon was one of about 20 states in which the courts had not ruled on the enforceability of parental waivers in a recreational setting. In Bagley v. Mt. Bachelor, Inc. (2013), Myles Bagley’s father signed a waiver and indemnity agreement on behalf of his son so that the 17 year-old, an expert snowboarder, could purchase a season pass to Mt. Bachelor. The waiver was signed two weeks before Myles’ 18th birthday.

Connecticut, California, and North Dakota Courts Address Parental Waivers

By Doyice Cotten

Recent 2013 cases in Connecticut, California, and North Dakota have addressed the question as to whether parents have the authority to sign away the rights of a minor to recover for injury resulting from the negligence of the provider.

California Case

Lotz v. The Claremont Club (2013 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5748) involved a 10 year-old who was injured in a dodgeball game. It is well established that California law allows the enforcement of parental waivers provided the waiver is unambiguous and meets court requirements.