Waiver at trampoline park signed by wife without husband's permission; Lawsuit allowed to proceed

By Carrie Salls | Nov 9, 2017

HARRISBURG – Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park lost an appeal filed in a personal injury lawsuit after the Superior Court ruled that the injured party’s wife signed participation paperwork on his behalf without his consent, according to an Oct. 31 opinion.

Joseph Burns and his wife, Dawn Burns, alleged in their lawsuit filed on April 6, 2016, against Philly Trampoline Parks, Delco LLC, which does business as Sky Zone, that Joseph Burns fractured his ankle on a trampoline as a result of Sky Zone’s negligence in May 2014.

In its preliminary objections to the Burns’ complaint, Sky Zone said the “participant agreement, release and assumption of risk” signed by Sky Zone trampoline users requires disputes to be sent to arbitration and the right to a jury trial waived.

However, the plaintiffs argued in their reply to the Sky Zone objection that “Joseph Burns did not sign the agreement,” according to the Superior Court ruling. Instead, Joseph Burns claimed that Dawn Burns completed the necessary documents before Joseph Burns went into the trampoline park and “signed the agreement on Joseph Burns’ behalf without his authority.”

The lower court overruled Sky Zone’s preliminary objections on Oct. 18, 2016. Sky Zone appealed that decision.

In affirming the trial court’s order on the preliminary objections, the Superior Court said “there is no evidence of record indicating that Joseph Burns expressly authorized Dawn Burns to enter the agreement on his behalf.” As a result, the Superior Court ruled that “Joseph Burns is not legally bound by the agreement.”

Superior Court Judge Mary Jane Bowes wrote a dissenting opinion in which she said she “would enforce the participation agreement that Dawn Burns signed on behalf of her husband Joseph Burns and would remand this matter to arbitration.”

Specifically, Bowes said she feels that Dawn Burns was “operating as Joseph Burns’ agent” when she filled out the forms on his behalf.

“Mr. Burns understood that his participation agreement was completed and executed so that he could participate in Sky Zone trampoline activities, he was not upset with his wife for signing the agreement, and he admitted that, if Ms. Burns had not signed the agreement for him, he would have signed it in order to participate in Sky Zone trampoline activities,” Bowes wrote.

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Sky Zone Trampoline Park Superior Court of Pennsylvania

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