One of my former torts students sent me the exchange below from Miss Manners in the Washington Post that takes risk averse lifestyles to a new extreme in the form of waivers for child play dates. I often joke in class that I have students sign waivers when visiting my house for our class party. She probably thought this was one of my neighbors.
Here is the exchange:
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son is invited to spend time in the home of one of his classmates. The classmate’s parents request that I sign a release of liability before my son arrives. I think this is unbelievably rude — as if to imply that I would sue them if there is an accident or injury!
Am I overreacting, or has our society really come to believe that anyone who visits your home, and is injured, will sue?
GENTLE READER: Well, there is an awful lot of suing going on. But that is all the more reason to be wary of people who harbor anticipatory litigious thoughts about their children’s playdates.
However, that is not the only worry that Miss Manners would have if she were you. What goes on in that household that such a precaution is necessary?
First, I must object to Miss Manners horning in on our territory. I have never been able to get my Mr. Legal Manners off the ground and this is probably why.
Second, much like the annual competition for the most wacky product warnings, this response is not based on any real legal threat to homeowners or runaway litigation. Negligence has ample protections for homeowners on playdates. When the kid sticks the carrot up his nose, you really are not liable nor is the farmer or the grocer.
Third, as the parent of four kids under 13, you do not want your kid at a house where they are raising the legal bubble boy. Not only is it icky, it is delusional.
Finally, next time they ask you to sign a waiver, you might want to ask for an agreement on standard mediation clause, choice of jurisdiction, and the participation of a notary. Finally, there are details to be worked out over force majeure questions that might arise during standard games like capture the flag. Now that I think about it, these parents may have a point. I would encourage any parents wanting a liability safe play date to contact me for waiver drafting, review of waivers, and escrow services (for deposits on liability or litigation costs). Below is my new logo but I may need suggestions on the slogan. Here are a few options:
JONATHAN TURLEY — BECAUSE NO CHILD SHOULD BE WITHOUT HIS LAWYER
JONATHAN TURLEY — GIVE YOUR CHILD THE GIFT OF REPRESENTATION
JONATHAN TURLEY — LIKE A SECOND [CONTINGENCY BASED] FATHER
JONATHAN TURLEY — LITIGATING PLAYGROUND SLIP AND FALLS SINCE 2012
JONATHAN TURLEY — IF YOU HAVE A WEDGIE, YOU HAVE A LAWYER
JONATHAN TURLEY — BECAUSE SUE IS NOT JUST A CUTE NAME
Kudos: Hannah Hodel
Source: Washington Post