A state appellate court recently issued an opinion stemming from a Florida amusement park injury lawsuit. According to the record, the defendant operates an indoor amusement park that contains trampolines, walls, and zip lines. The plaintiff’s son went to an amusement park with an adult friend of the family. Before entering, the friend signed a “release, assumption of risk, waiver of liability, and indemnification agreement.” The document allowed the friend to “warrant and represent” the document on the minor’s behalf. The boy suffered serious injuries while riding a zipline attraction.
The plaintiff sued the Florida amusement park company, and the company moved to compel arbitration. The defendant contended that the arbitration agreement was valid because the friend had “physical legal custody” of the plaintiff’s son. They argued that any issues surrounding whether the woman had the authority to sign was a matter for arbitration, not trial. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed.
On appeal, the court reviewed several issues, including whether a dispute should go to arbitration. There are three main elements that a Florida court will review when making this determination. First, whether a valid arbitration agreement exists, whether an arbitrable issue exists, and whether the party waived the right to arbitration. In Florida, questions regarding contract formation remain a trial court issue. Further, disputes regarding whether parties entered into a valid arbitration agreement is a contract formation question. In this case, the court found that the defendant failed to acknowledge the distinction between contract validity challenges and contract formation questions.
Here, the defendant purported that the trial court improperly reviewed the enforceability of a contract. They argued that enforceability is a contract validity question that must be addressed through arbitration. However, in actuality, the issue here is whether a contract was even formed. The trial court found that “no valid written agreement existed” between the plaintiff and the amusement park because the plaintiff’s friend lacked the authority to execute the release on behalf of the plaintiff. The court ultimately concluded that the resolution of these questions remains with the trial court. Moreover, the court also found that the defendant failed to provide that a valid arbitration agreement existed. As such, the court affirmed the trial court’s order denying the amusement park’s motion to compel arbitration.
Have You Suffered Injuries at a Florida Amusement Park?
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries in any type of accident, contact the Grife Law Firm. The attorneys at our office have been proudly fighting for the rights of injury victims since 2005. In addition to upsetting their financial standing, we understand the devastating toll that injuries can take on a person’s physical and psychological health. We seek to make things right after an accident in any way we can. We represent clients in injury cases stemming from Florida slip and falls, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, dog bites, catastrophic accidents, and wrongful death. Contact our office at 855-998-0770 to discuss recovering the compensation you deserve.