LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For-profit companies like House of Boom can be held liable for children's injuries even if parents sign a waiver promising not to sue, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
In a unanimous decision, the high court said that, for the most part, under Kentucky law, "a parent has no authority to enter into contracts on a child's behalf."
At issue is a lawsuit filed by Kathy Miller, whose 11-year-old daughter identified as "E.M." broke her ankle at House of Boom in Louisville in 2015. Miller had checked a box saying she, on behalf of her daughter, would "forever discharge and agree not to sue" the trampoline park.
House of Boom asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, citing the waiver Miller signed. But because the case involved a "novel issue of state law," the federal court asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to weigh in.
In the ruling authored by Justice Laurance B. VanMeter, the high court noted that in 11 of 12 jurisdictions in the U.S., waivers between parents and for-profit entities have been found unenforceable.
The same is true in Kentucky, he wrote.
"Simply put, the statutes of the General Assembly and decisions of this Court reflect no public policy shielding the operators of for-profit trampoline parks from liability," the opinion said.
House of Boom declined to comment. An attorney for Miller did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The ruling comes after Andrew Followell filed a lawsuit against the extreme trampoline park. The lawsuit claimed he hurt his back at the park located at 100 Urton Lane on Jan. 30, 2016, after a fall caused in part by the placement of punching bags.
In April, a jury found that Followell was 40% at fault for his injuries, and House of Boom was 60% responsible, and awarded him $495,000 in damages. Court documents indicate House of Boom filed a motion to have the verdict overturned and asked for a new trial. The business reversed in court in early June before the case was scheduled to go back to court and agreed to "a full settlement."
Anthony Ellis, a Louisville attorney with extensive experience with these types of cases, hopes it will encourage all businesses to take a closer look at their safety standards, especially those who provide activities for kids.
"Every company should be operating in the safest way possible if they're running a business that involves our children," he said.
Click here to read the complete ruling from the Supreme Court.
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