Thursday, July 18, 2019
Not long after a similar holding in Kentucky, the Utah Supreme Court held that pre-injury releases signed by parents on behalf of their children "generally offend Utah public policy." From Shook, Hardy & Bacon's State Supreme Court Watch:
Rutherford v. Talisker Canyons Fin., Co., LC, 2019 WL 2710230
Holding: Pre-injury liability releases executed by a parent on behalf of a minor “generally offend Utah’s public policy” and are unenforceable.
The parents of a 10-year-old advanced skier who sustained brain injuries in a crash at a ski resort brought negligence and premises liability claims against the ski resort. The ski resort argued that the minor’s injuries were due to the inherent risks of skiing and barred pursuant to both Utah’s Inherent Risks of Skiing Act (IRSA) and a pre-injury liability release executed by the minor’s father. The trial court determined that the resort’s pre-injury liability release was unenforceable and that a question of fact existed as to whether the resort exercised reasonable care in the circumstances. The court of appeals affirmed this decision, but recognized that other pre-injury releases signed by a parent on behalf of a child are generally enforceable. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower courts, but also took the opportunity to clarify that pre-injury liability releases executed by a parent on behalf of a minor generally offend state public policy.