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Court Addresses Arbitration Clause in Florida Amusement Park Premises Liability Lawsuit

An appellate court recently issued an opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit against a trampoline park. The case arose when a mother brought a lawsuit against an amusement park company (Park) on behalf of her son, who suffered injuries at the trampoline park. A friend of the family took the woman’s son to a trampoline park for a birthday party. While the boy was at the Park, he suffered serious injuries after falling off of a zipline. The woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the Park, and the Park moved to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the Park’s motion to compel arbitration, and the appeal ensued.

The Park requires ticket holders to sign a release which includes an assumption of risk, waiver of liability, and indemnification agreement. At issue is whether the arbitration clause in this agreement was valid and whether the parties agreed to the clause. The Park contends that because the family friend had “legal physical custody” of the minor, she could sign the arbitration agreement on his behalf. It further argued that any issues surrounding the authority of the woman to sign the agreement were an issue for arbitration, not a trial court.

Under Florida law, arbitration provisions fall under contract law and require contract interpretation. Disputes involving whether a case should proceed to arbitration require a court to look at three elements. These elements include (1) whether a valid written arbitration agreement exists, (2) whether an arbitrable issue is present, and (3) whether the parties waived the right to arbitrate.

In this case, the court found that the trial court reserves the right to resolve contract formation issues. The court reasoned that because the court lawfully determined that a valid agreement did not exist, they did not need to address enforceability. Next, the court ruled that the Park failed to prove that a valid arbitration agreement existed. They acknowledged that public policy favors arbitration. However, this presumption does not apply when there is a dispute about whether an arbitration agreement existed. Here, the child’s mother did not sign the agreement; thus, the agreement that the Park seeks to enforce does not exist. Ultimately, the court agreed with the trial court’s ruling that the Park cannot compel arbitration because a valid agreement does not exist.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Amusement Park Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries during a recreational or amusement park visit, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. For over 45 years, our law firm has been representing the rights of Florida injury victims. We handle personal injury cases stemming from Florida premises liability cases, defective or dangerous products, motor vehicle and boat accidents, and wrongful death. Our experienced and dedicated attorneys can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Compensation in these cases may include payments for medical expenses, ongoing treatment and therapy, lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering, and funeral expenses. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our legal team.

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