Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo, No. 5D11–748.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation98 So.3d 759
PartiesGIVE KIDS THE WORLD, INC., Appellant, v. Stacy SANISLO and Eric Sanislo, Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 5D11–748.
Decision Date17 October 2012

98 So.3d 759

GIVE KIDS THE WORLD, INC., Appellant,
v.
Stacy SANISLO and Eric Sanislo, Appellees.

No. 5D11–748.

District Court of Appeal of Florida,
Fifth District.

Oct. 12, 2012.
Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Oct. 17, 2012.


[98 So.3d 760]


Wm. Jere Tolton, III, of Ogden & Sullivan, P.A., Tampa, and Matthew J. Haftel and Derek J. Angell of O'Connor & O'Connor, LLC, Orlando, for Appellant.

Michael J. Damaso, II, of Wooten, Kimbrough and Normand, P.A., Orlando, Jack W. Shaw, Jr., of Jack W. Shaw, Jr., P.A., Winter Park, and Christopher V. Carlyle and Shannon McLin Carlyle of The Carlyle Appellate Law Firm, The Villages, for Appellees.


ON MOTION FOR REHEARING

PER CURIAM.

We grant Appellees' motion for rehearing in part and deny the en banc rehearing by order. Upon motion for rehearing, we withdraw our prior opinion and substitute the following opinion in its place.

Give Kids the World, Inc. (“GKTW”), the defendant below, appeals a final judgment entered against it in a negligence action. GKTW argues that the lower court erred by denying its pretrial motion for summary judgment on its affirmative defense of release. We agree and reverse.

GKTW is a non-profit organization that provides free “storybook” vacations to seriously ill children and their families at its resort village, the Give Kids the World Village (“the Village”). Stacy and Eric Sanislo (“the Sanislos”) are the parents of a young girl with a serious illness. In November 2004, the Sanislos executed a liability release to GKTW in connection with a “wish request” that benefitted their daughter.1 The release, in pertinent part, provided:

By my/our signature(s) set forth below, and in consideration of Give Kids the World, Inc. granting said wish, I/we hereby release Give Kids the World, Inc. and all of its agents, officers, directors, servants and employees from any liability whatsoever in connection with the preparation, execution, and fulfillment of said wish, on behalf of ourselves, the above named wish child and all other

[98 So.3d 761]

participants. The scope of the release shall include, but not be limited to, damages or losses or injuries encountered in connection with transportation, food, lodging, medical concerns (physical and emotional), entertainment, photographs and physical injury of any kind.

....

I/we further agree to hold harmless and to release Give Kids the World, Inc. from any and all claims and causes of action of every kind arising from any and all physical or emotional injuries and/or damages which may happen to me/us, or damage to or theft of our personal belongings, jewelry or other personal property which may occur while staying at the Give Kids the World Village.

The wish request was approved and, upon their arrival at the Village from the state of Washington, the Sanislos executed another liability release with identical language.

During the course of her stay at the Village, Stacy Sanislo was injured when she, along with her husband, posed for a picture on a pneumatic wheelchair lift that was attached to the back of a horse-drawn wagon. The lift collapsed because the weight limit had been exceeded, injuring Ms. Sanislo. The Sanislos brought suit against GKTW, alleging that Ms. Sanislo's injuries were caused by GKTW's negligence. In its answer, GKTW asserted the affirmative defense of release. Subsequently, GKTW filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the signed liability releases precluded a finding of liability. The Sanislos filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of release as well. The trial court denied GKTW's motion, but granted that of the Sanislos. 2 Following a jury verdict, judgment was entered in the Sanislos' favor.

On appeal, GKTW correctly asserts that it was entitled to summary judgment based on the release. Exculpatory clauses are disfavored under the law, but unambiguous exculpatory contracts are enforceable unless they contravene public policy. Applegate v. Cable Water Ski, L.C., 974 So.2d 1112, 1114 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) (citing Cain v. Banka, 932 So.2d 575, 578 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006)). The wording of the exculpatory clause must be clear and understandable so that an ordinary and knowledgeable person will know what he or she is contracting away. Raveson v. Walt Disney World Co., 793 So.2d 1171, 1173 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001). This Court has expressly “rejected the need for express language referring to release of the defendant for ‘negligence’ or ‘negligent acts' in order to render a release effective to bar a negligence action.” Cain, 932 So.2d at 578.3 In Cain, this Court noted that an exculpatory clause absolving a defendant of “any and all liability, claims, demands, actions, and causes of action whatsoever” was sufficient to encompass the plaintiff's negligence action filed against a defendant track owner in connection with motocross bike riding. Id. at 579;see also Hardage Enters., Inc. v. Fidesys Corp., N.V., 570 So.2d 436, 437 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990) (determining that “any and all claims, demands,...

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5 practice notes
  • Sanislo v. Give Kids the World, Inc., No. SC12–2409.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 12, 2015
    ...case is before the Court for review of the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo, 98 So.3d 759 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012), in which the Fifth District held that an exculpatory clause was effective to bar a negligence action despite the absence of ex......
  • Ucf Athletics Ass'n Inc. v. Plancher, No. 5D11–2710.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • September 6, 2013
    ...to render the clause unenforceable in any District in Florida other than ours. See [121 So.3d 1102]Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo, 98 So.3d 759, 759 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) (holding that an exculpatory clause need not have an express reference to negligence in order to render it effective......
  • UCF Athletics Ass'n Inc. v. Plancher, Case No. 5D11-2710
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 16, 2013
    ...be enough to render the clause unenforceable in any District in Florida other thanPage 6ours. See Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo, 98 So. 3d 759, 759 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) (holding that an exculpatory clause need not have an express reference to negligence in order to render it effective......
  • Brooks v. Paul, No. 4D16–2538
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 7, 2017
    ...negligence claims even though it did not expressly reference negligence actions. Id. (citing Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo , 98 So.3d 759, 761–62 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) ). On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court held that a negligence claim may be barred by a release even if the release do......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Sanislo v. Give Kids the World, Inc., No. SC12–2409.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 12, 2015
    ...case is before the Court for review of the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo, 98 So.3d 759 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012), in which the Fifth District held that an exculpatory clause was effective to bar a negligence action despite the absence of ex......
  • Ucf Athletics Ass'n Inc. v. Plancher, No. 5D11–2710.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • September 6, 2013
    ...to render the clause unenforceable in any District in Florida other than ours. See [121 So.3d 1102]Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo, 98 So.3d 759, 759 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) (holding that an exculpatory clause need not have an express reference to negligence in order to render it effective......
  • UCF Athletics Ass'n Inc. v. Plancher, Case No. 5D11-2710
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 16, 2013
    ...be enough to render the clause unenforceable in any District in Florida other thanPage 6ours. See Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo, 98 So. 3d 759, 759 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) (holding that an exculpatory clause need not have an express reference to negligence in order to render it effective......
  • Brooks v. Paul, No. 4D16–2538
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 7, 2017
    ...negligence claims even though it did not expressly reference negligence actions. Id. (citing Give Kids the World, Inc. v. Sanislo , 98 So.3d 759, 761–62 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) ). On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court held that a negligence claim may be barred by a release even if the release do......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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