NJ Appellate Division addresses applicability of arbitration provisions in two separate decisions involving amusement parks.
First, in Matullo v. Skyzone Trampoline Park, the New Jersey appellate division addressed whether an arbitration provision contained in a participation agreement signed by a 15-year-old was enforceable. The appellate panel, in reversing and remanding the trial court’s ruling to compel arbitration, held that the provision was unenforceable because the minor had a right to disaffirm the contract and found that the estoppel exception did not apply based on the facts of this case.
In Matullo, the minor listed himself both as an adult and as a minor with two different birthdates. He signed a participant agreement, including an arbitration provision for minors, although not being the requisite 18-years-old in order to enter into the agreement. Despite the minor’s fraudulent act in providing a fake birthdate in order to gain access to the trampoline park, the court found that the elements of estoppel did not apply to enforce the contract because the defendants could not have reasonably relied on the plaintiff’s misrepresentation where any of the defendant’s employees could have reviewed the agreement and would have seen that the plaintiff listed himself with the same name and two different birthdates.
Second, in Perez v. Skyzone, LLC, the trial court’s order to compel the arbitration provision as to the trampoline park was upheld. However, the appellate panel reversed and remanded, in part, where the two other co-defendants were not parties to the agreement and the record did not establish those entities as affiliates or agents of the trampoline park. Thus, as to the two other defendants, the matter was stayed, pending the conclusion of the arbitration. As to the selection of an appointed arbitrator who was unavailable, the appellate panel found the provision enforceable because, in that event, both the governing acts—FAA and NJAA—permit the court to appoint a substitute arbitrator.
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