Earlier this month, one state’s supreme court issued a written opinion summarily affirming a lower court’s decision that the contract the defendant trampoline park required patrons to sign was a contract of adhesion and thus unenforceable. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiffs will be permitted to continue with their case in a court of law, rather than proceed through arbitration.
The Aliceas arranged to take their two young sons to a trampoline park owned by the defendant. Prior to being admitted into the park, Mrs. Alicea was required to electronically sign a “Participant Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk” form. The form contained what claimed to be a binding arbitration clause, whereby anyone who signed the form would be prohibited from filing a case in a court of law against the trampoline park. Instead, the dispute would be resolved through an arbitration company. The form also included a clause stating that any person who did file a lawsuit against the trampoline park agreed to pay the park a $5,000 fee plus interest.
Mrs. Alicea signed the form electronically, and Mr. Alicea took the couple’s three sons to the park. Unfortunately, one of his sons fell while jumping on a trampoline and fractured his femur. The Aliceas filed a personal injury lawsuit against the trampoline park, arguing that the park’s negligence caused their son’s injury.
The trampoline park responded to the lawsuit by asking the judge to dismiss the case because the form Mrs. Alicea electronically signed indicated that she consented to settle all claims through arbitration. The Aliceas claimed they did not knowingly consent to arbitration and asked the court to deny the park’s motion.
The court ended up agreeing with the Aliceas. While the majority of the court agreed that the contract was not valid, the judges could not agree on why. Several judges thought that the language discussing the agreement to arbitrate was hidden in a large block of text, making it difficult to understand. Other judges felt as though the $5,000 penalty for filing a lawsuit was not mutual, meaning that it only placed a burden on the person signing the contract and that the defendant was not bound by the agreement in the same way. In the end, the contract was struck down, and the Aliceas will be permitted to bring a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of their injured son.
Have You Been Injured in any Pay-to-Play Activity?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of pay-to-play activity, such as bungee jumping, skydiving, paint balling, or something similar, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While many contracts contain unfavorable terms for participants, courts may determine that these contracts are invalid for a variety of reasons. Discussing your case with a dedicated attorney is a good first step to see if you may be entitled to compensation. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation to you unless we can help you obtain the recovery you deserve.
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Executive of Peanut Company Sentenced to Prison for Knowingly Distributing Tainted Product, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2016
Application of the “Discovery Rule” in Medical Malpractice Cases May Require a Judge or Jury to Determine Exactly When the Statute of Limitations Began to Run, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 4, 2016