Disney and Seaworld are part of a larger group of tourism industry businesses in Florida that are lobbying the Florida Legislature to reintroduce parental waivers for potentially dangerous activities. These parental waivers sign away a child’s right to file a civil lawsuit after being injured while participating in such an activity, even if there was negligence on the part of the business operator. Just over a year ago, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that parents did not have the authority to sign away their children’s right to sue before participating in potentially dangerous activities. This decision upset the tourism industry in Florida, as many businesses warned that it would start to ban children from certain activities.
The fallout from the ruling, however, has been minor at best. Both Disney and Seaworld, who were publically opposed to the ban on parental waivers, have not imposed new restrictions on any activities that required them. The Richard Petty Driving Experience, which operates a race track at Walt Disney World that takes riders in a real stock car at speeds of up to 165 mph even lowered the minimum age for child riders from 16 to 14.
Florida’s annual two-month legislative session begins in early March. Minors should have the right to sue not only as minors, but also later as adults. By permitting parents to sign away their children’s civil lawsuit rights, not only are parents signing away a child’s right to sue, but also waiving their future rights, and keeping an adult in the future from seeking just compensation.