As WSBA members who also are parents keenly know, alarm clocks are ringing, backpacks largeenoughto mountanarctic expeditionare lying about the house, you’ve tried to make your way through a school supply list that surely must have been assembled by a discredited government contractor, and, if you’re shuttling more than one child to school or extracurricular activities, you may be wondering whether a jury of your peers
actually would convict if you let your middle schooler drive herself to
school . . . yes, it’s back-to-school time. Accordingly, let’s begin with a
short quiz. So, clear your desk, put away your smartphone, and begin.
Question: Which of the following
agreements is not enforceable, if you sign
it as an adult in Washington?
A. A vaccination release that waives all
tort liability for injury to, or death, of
your minor child.
B. A release form allowing your minor
child to participate in a band field trip
and releasing the sponsor from liability for injury.
C. An agreement authorizing the amputation of your minor child’s leg without your spouse’s consent.
okay, even a drunken monkey has a
one-in-three chance of getting a gold star.
In light of the fact that you chose to invest
at least a couple of years of your life and
a small fortune in a law degree, let’s hope
you did better. If, however, you did not
quickly (and confidently) answer “B,”
maybe you should consider co-counsel or
simply commiserate about your dubious
legal investment with said monkey.
Today, 21 years after the Wash-
ington State Supreme court wreaked
havoc on common sense and liberty,
an entire group of citizens has aged
enough to head off to a drinking estab-
lishment . . . lawfully. They also, hope-
fully, have enough schooling to realize
that Derek Bok had it right when he ob-
served that “[i]f you think education is
expensive, try ignorance.”
If you are a parent, in an average
school year, your child likely will bring
home several release forms for signa-
ture. Some forms — in an astonishing
disregard for basic contract law prin-
ciples — also will require your young
child to sign the release. I’m not making
this up. And if your child participates
in other activities, you’ll see even more
release forms. In just the past year, I’ve
seen these forms as a participation pre-
condition for gymnastics, cheerleading,
parades, fencing, indoor rock climbing,
theater camp, a city-sponsored summer
camp, a charity fun run/walk . . . and
even a poetry contest. Seriously!
So, what’s going on? Well, to begin,
perhaps not a lot of thinking. Despite
the fact that some of these forms have
been lawyered to death, under Washington law, the forms are invalid. In Scott
v. Pacific West Mountain Resort (119
Wn.2d 484 (1992)), the Washington
State Supreme court — on tough facts
Back to School
Whatever Happened to Contract
Law and Liberty?
by Greg Tolbert