This past year, exculpatory waivers had their moment in the sun as businesses and educational institutions raced to put waivers in place to protect against claims stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. A Minnesota Court of Appeals decision published this week, Carter Justice v. Marvel, LLC d/b/a Pump It Up Parties, provides clarity and confidence for the Minnesota businesses and educational institutions that utilize waivers for persons under 18. In an issue of first impression, the appellate court held that an exculpatory waiver signed by a parent on behalf of his or her minor child is binding on the child after the child becomes an adult. The court also reinforced the standard for determining whether a waiver is enforceable under Minnesota law and the effect of an overly broad waiver.
Retaliation and whistleblower claims are on the rise nationally, and Minnesota is no exception to this trend. In part, this is because plaintiffs’ counsel perceive such claims — particularly claims arising under the broad Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA) — as relatively easy to get past a motion for summary judgment and to trial. However, four recent decisions issued by Minnesota courts suggest that this perception may not be well founded.
In each decision (two opinions by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, one opinion by the Minnesota Court of Appeals and one opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota), the court granted or affirmed the granting of summary judgment in favor of the employer. These decisions provide useful guidance in assessing potential arguments to defeat a retaliation claim on a motion for summary judgment.
Educational institutions hoping for a last-minute reprieve from the new Title IX regulations scheduled to go into effect August 14 are out of luck. Earlier this week, the Southern District of New York denied a nationwide preliminary injunction sought by the state of New York to delay implementation of the new regulations (State of New York, et al. v. United States Department of Education, et al.).
And, just days later, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) defeated another preliminary injunction motion filed by 17 states and the District of Columbia in federal court in Washington, D.C. (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al. v. Elisabeth DeVos, et al.). A third preliminary injunction motion is pending in the District of Massachusetts — however, earlier this month, the court there denied a motion to expedite a hearing, stating that “a prompt September hearing is fully appropriate.”