People sign contracts all the time. When someone purchases a ticket to a concert or installs a new software on their computer, they probably signed the contract without giving it much thought. It is only later when an issue arises that the terms of the contract really become important. However, a recent case shows how sometimes even if someone has agreed to the contract’s terms, the terms may not be legally enforceable.
In Alicea v. Activelaf, LLC, a Sky Zone trampoline park required customers to complete a waiver prior to entering the park. A woman signed the agreement before her husband took their children to the park. Later that day, one of the couple’s sons was injured while he was jumping on a trampoline. The family filed a lawsuit against the park. A clause in the agreement stated that customers waived the right to a trial and that the customers’ claims would be decided through arbitration instead. Accordingly, the park argued that the case should be decided through arbitration because of the clause in the agreement.
However, that state’s supreme court decided that despite the fact that the woman signed the contract, the clause was unenforceable. First, the court stated that although its state laws favored the enforcement of arbitration contracts, the arbitration language was camouflaged within the agreement, and as a result, the mother did not truly consent to the arbitration provision. Second, the provision also did not specifically state that both parties were bound to arbitration—instead, it stated only that patrons would be required to engage in arbitration. For these reasons, the court found the clause was unenforceable under the state’s laws and allowed the case to proceed in the courts.
Arbitration Clauses in Illinois
Arbitration allows parties involved in a dispute to resolve the issue outside court. In arbitration, an arbitrator (or a panel of arbitrators) is agreed upon by both parties and makes the final decision in the case. This type of resolution allows parties to avoid some of the costs and delays involved in the normal court process. Since individuals or entities want to limit having to go through the court process, some include arbitration clauses in their contracts. Sometimes these clauses make arbitration a mandatory part of the contract, requiring the parties to resolve potential future claims in arbitration.
In Illinois, the Arbitration Act states that arbitration clauses are generally enforceable. However, as shown in the case above, that does not mean that all clauses are necessarily enforceable. For example, a clause may be unenforceable if it is prohibited by Illinois law or if it is against the public interest.
Have You Been Injured After Signing a Contract or Waiver?
Even if you signed a waiver of liability or a contract limiting your ability to receive compensation or to sue in court, it may not be enforceable against you. The Chicago injury attorneys at Moll Law Group represent individuals who have been injured and families who have lost loved ones. Billions of dollars have been recovered in cases in which we were involved. Contact a premises liability attorney to see if you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. Fill out our online form or call us at 312-462-1700 to arrange a free initial consultation.
See More Posts:
State Court Adopts Continuing Course of Treatment Doctrine, Potentially Extending Statute of Limitations in Some Medical Malpractice Cases, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 5, 2016.
Property Owners May Be Held Responsible for Negligent Acts of Others on Premises, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 31, 2016.
Court Determines that Land Surveyors Are Considered “Professionals” for Negligence Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, September 30, 2016.