The Fourth District Court of Appeals, which rules on cases from Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Palm Beach Counties, ruled on January 6, 2021, that an injured high school student could not sue school officials for their alleged negligence in placing a concrete barrier next to the soccer field without padding causing the soccer player to be injured during a game.¹ Even though it is foreseeable that a concrete barrier next to a soccer field could cause serious injury to a player, the Court held:
“Because (the child) suffered injuries resulting from athletic participation, the school board would be held harmless from liability.”
The child’s father was required to sign a release from liability with the school board for his son to play soccer on the varsity soccer team. The Court held that a concrete barrier next to the field was part of “the risks that are a natural part of the activity” of playing soccer. Therefore, the school and its administrators, and the school board could not be held accountable for the child’s injuries.
I recommend parents not sign any release of liability for their children to play sports at their schools. All you have to do is draw a line through the release language on the document they provide, initial the line and sign the document. Or you could write an extra line on the document that says something like, “This release does not apply to negligent acts of the school.”
We all know that playing sports can cause injury, but that doesn’t mean the school board doesn’t have to provide a safe environment in which to play. Sports are already dangerous enough as it is. We do not need the negligence of adults adding to the mix.
¹ Ethan Elalouf, v. School Board of Broward County, 46 FLW D114 (Fla 4th DCA January 6, 2021).