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In the age of COVID-19, businesses may require waivers, but…

Waco-Temple-Bryan KWTX-TV logo Waco-Temple-Bryan KWTX-TV 6/24/2020 Paul J. Gately
a group of people standing around each other: “This is Texas,” said one Waco attorney who’s been practicing law in Texas for more than 40 years, “and that means anybody can sue anybody for anything. (MGN/file) © Provided by Waco-Temple-Bryan KWTX-TV “This is Texas,” said one Waco attorney who’s been practicing law in Texas for more than 40 years, “and that means anybody can sue anybody for anything. (MGN/file)

WACO, Texas (KWTX)

As Texas reopens and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases spike in some parts of the state including Central Texas, some businesses may require customers to sign waivers intended to prevent lawsuits if someone gets sick, but do they really work?

“This is Texas,” said one Waco attorney who’s been practicing law in Texas for more than 40 years, “and that means anybody can sue anybody for anything.

“The question is, can the plaintiff prevail in court.”

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Waco attorney Karen Matkin.

“There’s been nothing like that taken to court so there’s no record of what a court might do.”

Another Waco attorney agreed.

“I think on the surface those agreements will work, they’ll hold up,” Vic Feazell said.

“But this is new law and no issues have been taken to court so there’s no way to guess what the court might say.”

Denny Lessman, also a Waco attorney, said there are many factors that might come into play, such as whether a man may sign a release that also includes his wife or his family when neither she nor his children would have any direct input.

“It gets a bit murkier when you start talking about if there is gross negligence involved and the courts are split on that issue already with some saying ‘yes’ and others ‘no,’” Matkin said.

“Can a parent waive a child’s right to sue?” she asked.

Some lawyers say yes, and some say no.

“It always comes down to the situation,” Matkin said.

Such an issue is not a very common basis for a lawsuit, Lessman said.

Still, he said, and many others agreed, on the surface it appears such a release could protect a business in the event someone got ill and sued.

“But proving where that person actually contracted the disease would be virtually impossible and therefore the barber or hairdresser or bar owner couldn’t be held responsible.”

On the other hand, if someone signed a release, got their hair cut and the barber didn’t wear a face mask or gloves and coughed or sneezed on his customer while he was in the chair, that would signal gross negligence and likely would remove the security a waiver promised.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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