The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled injury release forms signed by parents for their kids field trips can’t be enforced. The case involved a 14-year-old Black Hawk County girl who went on a field trip to Milwaukee with the U.N.I. Upward Bound program in July of 2005.
Taneia Galloway’s parents signed a release before the trip that waived any personal injury claims against U.N.I. or its employees. Galloway was struck by a car and injured while she was on the trip. Her parents sued saying the enforcement of the waiver was against public policy set by other state courts involving inury waivers.
They argued that parents are ill-equipped to assess the nature of risk faced by children at the time the releases are signed. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled an adult can sign a waiver for themselves and they are then free to stop an activity if they feel they might be in danger. But the court says when a parent is not present during an activity, the child may or may not have the ability to avoid being injured based on their age and maturity.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the release was not enforceable. Justices Cady and Ternus disagreed with the majority, saying there are times when the court can decide issues on public policy when it is clear and apparent, but they says this issue of public policy should be decided by the legislature.
See the entire ruling here: Release ruling PDF