It seems that just about any activity you undertake these days requires signing a waiver. Waivers are typically designed to protect the entity providing the service. However, in order for a waiver to be enforceable, certain conditions must be met. In Claire’s Boutique v. Locastro, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling pertaining to the validity of a waiver a parent signed in relation to her daughter’s ear piercing.
The facts of the case are as follows. Alexis Locastro, a 13-year-old girl, went to Claire’s to get her ears pierced in Florida. Before the piercing took place, Alexis’ mother Amy Locastro was required to sign a waiver form that released Claire’s from liability for any injuries her daughter sustained due to the negligence of Claire’s or its employees in performing the piercings. The waiver also stated that the clients would indemnify Claire’s and its employees for any claims she or her daughter might file against them. Put simply, the agreement stated that if Alexis or her mother sued Claire’s and won a damages award, they would be responsible for reimbursing Claire’s for any amount Claire’s was ordered to pay to Alexis or her mother, including attorney’s fees and costs.
Following the piercing, Alexis developed an infection in her ear that ultimately required extensive hospitalization and resulted in permanent ear disfiguration. Amy Locastro filed a lawsuit against Claire’s under the theory of negligence. According to the evidence at trial, all of Claire’s employees were required to undergo training on how to pierce ears. However, there was no specific evidence that the employee who pierced Alexis’ ears was ever formally trained.
The court ruled in favor of the Locastros and awarded them damages for medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. Claire’s then sued Amy Locastro, asserting that she was required to indemnify Claire’s for all costs associated with the lawsuit due to the fact that she signed the waiver form. The court agreed and entered a judgment against Amy Locastro.
On appeal, the Fourth District reversed the decision, ruling that the waiver was void as against Florida’s public policy. Specifically, the court reasoned that any indemnification agreement that mandates that parents indemnify a commercial activity provider for injuries their child sustained as a result of the provider’s negligence is invalid and unenforceable.
If you or someone you know is facing challenges because of signing a waiver, it is time to seek the help of a qualified attorney. In our society, we routinely sign waivers without even truly understanding what they are stating. The business or entity that harmed you or your loved one may try and tell you that you have no legal options because you’ve signed that waiver. However, in many cases, that is simply not true. The only way to ascertain the validity and enforceability of a waiver is by having a qualified attorney examine it. Robert Dixon is a highly skilled Miami personal injury attorney who is well versed in this area of the law. Our practice proudly represents clients throughout South Florida. To find out about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).
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