Results of case could challenge parental rights
The Florida Supreme Court will hear a case in June that could change parental rights when it comes to children participating in potentially risky activities.
The death of 14-year-old Christopher Jones in an ATV accident five years ago is at the crux of the case.
On May 10, 2003, Bobby Jones took his son Christopher to Thunder Cross Motor Sports Park in Okeechobee Country, Fla. Bobby Jones signed a release form on behalf of his son, waiving any liability and the right to sue the park. Christopher was killed when he fell off his ATV during a jump and the ATV landed on top of him.
Christopher’s mother Bette Jones, who was divorced from Bobby Jones at the time and was unaware of the ATV riding, filed a wrongful death suit against the owners and managers of the now defunct park in 2005. Late that year the circuit court granted a motion for summary judgment because Bobby Jones signed the release form. In August of 2007, the 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the decision, saying nothing in Florida law allows a parent to waive those legal rights for a child
“A pre-injury release actually encourages activity providers to cut costs at the expense of the safety of the children, perhaps even ignoring safety entirely because it removes their obligation of reasonable care toward children,” Lawrence Hutton, one of Bette Jones’ attorneys, said to TCPalm.com.
Bobby Jones has signed an affidavit saying that he fully understood what he was doing when he signed the release form. Attorneys for the park, according to TCPalm.com, are arguing that parents should have the ability to waive their children’s right to sue.