In the Rusell Rosen v. BJ’s Wholesale Club __ Md.App. ___ (2012) decision, the Court of Special Appeals addressed whether a parent could waive a child’s tort claims against a commercial enterprise. The parents had signed a release to allow their child to use the play center operated by BJ’s Wholesale Club. The release contained an exculpatory clause to absolve BJ’s Wholesale Club’s liability as well as an indemnificaion clause to shift payment of damages back to the parents. The Rosen’s 5-year old son suffered a serious injury when he fell from a play appartatus and hit head his on the concrete floor.
The Maryland court invalidated the release on the grounds that it violated public policy. By invalidating the release, the court shifted the responsibility to commercial enterprises to (1) take reasonable safety precautions in the operation and maintenance of their facilities; and (2) obtain adequate insurance to cover the risk of physical injury to their minor patrons.