Parent cannot sign away child's rights, Colorado court rules.
A parent cannot release a minor's prospective negligence claims, the Colorado Supreme Court The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Colorado. It consists of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. Powers and duties
Appellate jurisdiction has ruled. A liability waiver signed by a mother does not preclude her son's suit, the court said in reversing the trial court's summary judgment order.
The supreme courts of Utah and Washington state previously ruled similarly. (Parents Cannot Contract Away Child's Right to Sue, TRIAL, Feb. 2002, at 96.) But the Colorado decision is important, said Martin Freeman of Aspen, Colorado The City of Aspen is a Home Rule Municipality that is the most populous city and the county seat of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 5,804. , who represented the plaintiffs, because of the large recreational industry in the state.
In 1995, 17-year-old David Cooper David Cooper may be:
Cooper and his father filed a negligence suit against the ski club and the coach, John McBride This article is about the labor union leader. For the U.S. Representative from Oregon, see John R. McBride.
John McBride (1854 near Massillon, Ohio–October 9, 1917, Globe, Arizona) was an American labor union leader. , who had moved the training run to an unfamiliar course and allegedly failed to put up proper safety netting. The trial court, in granting summary judgment for the defendants, ruled that the mother's signature on the release form bound her son to its terms and barred his claims. The appeals court affirmed.
The supreme court disagreed, noting that the state has an important interest in protecting minors. "In the tort context especially, a minor should be afforded protection not only from his own improvident im·prov·i·dent
1. Not providing for the future; thriftless.
2. Rash; incautious.
im·provi·dence n. decision to release his possible prospective claims for injury based on another's negligence, but also from unwise decisions made on his behalf by parents who are routinely asked to release their child's claims for liability." (Cooper v. Aspen Skiing Co., 48 P.3d 1229 (Colo. 2002).)
In addition, the court said, a parent "may not indemnify a tortfeasor A wrongdoer; an individual who commits a wrongful act that injures another and for which the law provides a legal right to seek relief; a defendant in a civil tort action. Cross-references
tortfeasor n. for negligence committed against [a] minor child," because shifting the financial responsibility for damages to the parent would create an "unacceptable conflict of interest" between parents and minors.
Freeman said the ruling will have a lasting impact on premises law because "now children's rights The opportunity for children to participate in political and legal decisions that affect them; in a broad sense, the rights of children to live free from hunger, abuse, neglect, and other inhumane conditions. are being protected."
Howard Davidson, director of the ABA Center on Children and the Law, said of the ruling: "By viewing a minor's negligence claim as a children's rights issue rather than as a parental control issue, the court's decision sends a strong message about the continued importance of governments--and the courts--acting with vigilance to protect the well-being of children."
The decision, he added, "should prompt reminders to those responsible for programs serving children that careful and continued supervision, proper staff and volunteer training, appropriate responses to complaints, and adherence to accepted standards all remain critically important."