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Release Forms (Waivers) Unenforceable Says Iowa Court

Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a 19-year-old who was injured on a field trip in 2005 can proceed with her negligence lawsuit because the release forms signed by her mother are unenforceable.

The then 14-year-old was on a field trip to Milwaukee with a youth program called Upward Bound and organized by the University of Northern Iowa and the state of Iowa.  The students had to cross a busy street in the middle of a rainstorm without order or supervision and as the young girl got off the bus, she was hit by a car. 

In overturning a lower court’s decision, the court stated, “We believe a strong policy in favor of protecting children must trump any competing interest” to nullify a child’s personal injury claim.  The lawyer for the young girl argued “a parent can’t waive the potential negligence of a person or party” to whom they are releasing custody of their children and the person who is negligent in caring for the children can’t stand behind a waiver which signs the children’s rights away. 

The state argued ruling the liability waivers unenforceable could impact opportunities for children to participate in field trips and that public policy weighs in favor of releases.  The court acknowledged there is valid policy supporting waivers for adults, but believed strong public policy favoring protecting vulnerable children needs a different rule. 

When her first attempt at filing a lawsuit was turned down by the lower court because of the waiver, she argued to the higher court that parents are “ill-equipped” to know in advance all the risks of injury their children may face when the releases are signed. 

The high court agreed.

Waivers Unenforceable

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Posted by 4:48 pm

School’s Field Trip Waiver Angers Parents

A new field trip permission slip has angered the parents of children attending school in Lee County, Florida.   Well, it’s not exactly the permission slip – it’s the waiver included on the permission slip. 

The slip states, “your child may be seriously injured or killed by participating in this activity.”  If the parents sign the waiver, they are agreeing to give up their child’s right and their right to recover any damages from the school, its agents, and its employees in a lawsuit if anything happens to their child.  This includes any injuries the child may suffer and the death of the child during the trip or as a result of the field trip. 

Several parents refused to sign the permission slip.  One stated, “it looks like they are more concerned with a lawsuit than with the safety of my child.”

The school board attorney disagreed with the mother, stating that parents can sue if a school employee is negligent and that negligence leads to a child being injured or worse.  He said, “it doesn’t say you will not sue, it says you understand there is a risk involved.” 

Lee County has changed the standard permission slip to go along with Florida law and follows the state law word for word.  The local administrator who supervised its development feels the legislators were too explicit.  The same form is used for athletics and for academics and the administrator thinks there should be a difference in the forms since athletics pose a greater chance of injury. 

In case you’re wondering, the very dangerous field trip was scheduled for the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.

Florida School Waiver

Posted by 12:26 pm

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