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Employment Contract and Unconscionability

After Garrit’s death, the father, who was named personal representative of his son’s estate, brought suit on behalf of the estate and for both parents as survivors under Florida’s wrongful death statute. The complaint alleged that Global Travel’s failure to fulfill its duty to use reasonable care in operating the safari and warning of dangerous conditions caused his son’s death. A jury trial was requested. Global Travel moved to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration of the father’s claim. In response, the father argued that Jacobs, the mother, did not have legal authority to contract away Garrit’s substantive rights through a release of liability and arbitration clauses. However, in a hearing on Global Travel’s motion, counsel for the father acknowledged that the validity of the clause releasing Global Travel from liability was not then before the court, and would likely be an issue in the future. The trial court granted Global Travel’s motion to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration, concluding that the arbitration provision bound Garrit’s estate. The court did not determine whether the release of liability was enforceable.
[Ed. The release of liability read as follows:]
I have been informed and am aware that ADVENTURE TRAVEL CAN BE DANGEROUS and includes certain risks and dangers, including but not limited to . . . dangers of wild animals . . . . I HEREBY RELEASE, WAIVE, INDEMNIFY, AND AGREE NOT TO SUE THE AFRICA ADVENTURE COMPANY . . . for any and all losses, damages, or injuries or any claim or demand on account of injury or emotional trauma . . . or on account of death resulting from any cause . . . while the undersigned is participating in a tour or any travel or other arrangements by THE AFRICA ADVENTURE COMPANY . . . .

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