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Hojnowski v. Van Skate Park

Supreme Court of New Jersey
901 A.2d 381 (2006)


Facts

Twelve-year-old Andrew Hojnowski (plaintiff) went with his mother to a skate park operated by Vans (defendant), a skateboard retailer. Before Hojnowski was permitted to enter the skate park, Vans required his mother to sign a release. The release contained a requirement to arbitrate any claims of injury and a waiver of the right to seek damages if injured by Vans’s negligence. Hojnowski fractured his femur at the skate park when another skateboarder aggressively forced Hojnowski off a ramp. Prior to the accident, Hojnowski’s parents had complained to Vans about the aggressive skateboarder. Hojnowski sued Vans for negligence in its failure to supervise the skate park and its participants. In response, Vans filed a demand for arbitration. Hojnowski filed a motion to invalidate the pre-injury release that Hojnowski’s mother had signed, while Vans cross-moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted Vans’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing Hojnowski’s complaint and ordering arbitration. The trial court declined to rule on Hojnowski’s motion to invalidate the pre-injury release, leaving that issue to be determined in arbitration. Hojnowski appealed. The appeals court affirmed the validity of the arbitration clause but held that the pre-injury release was invalid. Hojnowski appealed the affirmation of the arbitration clause, and Vans appealed the invalidation of the pre-injury release.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Zazzali, J.)

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Dissent (LaVecchia, J.)

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