SW Legal studies in Business

Parental Approval of Liability Waiver for Child Held Unenforceable

Florida high court held that a liability waiver signed by a parent so his child could ride an ATV in an ATV park was unenforceable. Since the child was killed when riding the ATV, and the liability release was ineffective, suit by the child’s estate may proceed against the park operator.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Wrongful Death; Liability Waiver; Child

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Bobby Jones took his 14-year-old son, Christopher, to Thunder Cross Motor Sports Park to ride his ATV. To gain entry to the facility, Bobby, as parent, signed a release and liability of waiver for Christopher, who was killed when attempting a jump with his ATV. Christopher’s estate then sued Thunder Cross for wrongful death. The district court dismissed the suit because the liability waiver was properly executed on Christopher’s behalf. The appellate court reversed and certified a question to the Florida high court about the rule of law in such matters.


Question answered. Parental authority over decisions involving their minor children derives from the liberty interest contained in the Fourteenth Amendment. Parental rights are not absolute and the state, as parens patriae, may, in certain situations, usurp parental control. A pre-injury release executed by a parent on behalf of a minor child is unenforceable against the minor or the minor’s estate in a tort action arising from injuries resulting from participation in commercial activity.


Kirton v. Fields, ---So.2d--- (2008 WL 5170603, Sup. Ct., Fla., 2008)

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