Trampoline Park Injury Appeals: Opposite Conclusions on Arbitration Enforceability
Docket No.: A-2813-20
Decided May 16, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a pair of recent published decisions, the Appellate Division upheld an arbitration agreement for Sky Zone Trampoline Park in one case and found the same arbitration agreement unenforceable in another case, both issued on the same day.
In Matullo v. Sky Zone, plaintiff, then fifteen, entered a Sky Zone Trampoline Park and was presented with a “Participant Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk (The Agreement).” The Agreement contained an arbitration clause, requiring lawsuits against Sky Zone to be waived and to be arbitrated. The Agreement had a place for the individual to electronically sign and provide a date of birth. Initially, plaintiff listed himself as the signing party and gave a birthday of July 4, 1998. He also listed himself as a minor and gave the birthday of July 4, 2002.
Plaintiff was injured and filed a lawsuit claiming personal injury. Sky Zone attempted to dismiss the lawsuit and move the case to arbitration pursuant to the Agreement. Plaintiff opposed, arguing since he was a minor at the time of signing, he could opt out of the agreement. The trial court disagreed, finding that because plaintiff mislead Sky Zone with his date of birth, he could not escape the Agreement.
Plaintiff appealed and the Appellate Division reversed, finding plaintiff, as a minor, could disavow the agreement and that the exception of estoppel did not apply as Sky Zone did not detrimentally rely on plaintiff’s false date of birth.
In Perez v. Sky Zone, plaintiff together with his seven year old son, went to Sky Zone Trampoline Park. To enter, plaintiff had to electronically sign acknowledgement of an assumption of risk of injury and an arbitration agreement for disputes and limits to bring a claim. Plaintiff checked the box and was injured at the park.
Plaintiff filed a lawsuit and Sky Zone moved to have the case arbitrated pursuant to the Agreement. Plaintiff challenged the arbitration clause unsuccessfully. The Court found the arbitration clause binding and dismissed plaintiff’s lawsuit. Plaintiff appealed and the Appellate Division also upheld the Agreement and found the arbitration clause binding.
This case is important to understand the importance of releases. Releases are utilized in many recreational activities, including the trampoline park above. These are legitimate releases for the most part, unless they are deemed unclear (ambiguous) or completely unfair (unconscionable). The same applies to arbitration clauses. Neither of these were found to be the case above, but it was found that a minor can disavow signing an Agreement.
If you or someone you know has been injured after signing a release, injured in a car accident, truck crash, or slip and fall, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hark & Hark today. For personal injury matters, no money is paid up front, and fees are only collected if a recovery is made. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Woodbridge, Lakewood, Toms River, Hamilton, Trenton, Clifton, Camden, Brick, Cherry Hill, Passaic, Middletown, Union City, Old Bridge, Gloucester Township, East Orange, Bayonne, Franklin Township, North Bergen, Vineland, and Union.