Procedural Posture

Plaintiff minor and his parents (family) sued defendant child care provider and its employees (provider) for negligence, breach of contract, and other torts. The Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles (California) found that a release of claims barred the family’s claims except for the claim of fraud. A jury rejected the family’s fraud claim. The family appealed.

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The family sought damages arising from an incident of sexual touching between their child and another child in the provider’s child care program alleging that the provider had knowledge of the other child’s propensity towards inappropriate sexual conduct and should have taken steps to protect the family’s child. The family was required to sign a release of all claims against the provider in order to get their child into the provider’s program. The appellate court found that: (1) the appeal from the final judgment properly encompassed the ruling on the trial of the special defense of the release, (2) child care services were of vital importance to the public, and a matter of practical necessity for most working parents in California, (3) each of the Tunkl factors was present in this case, and (4) exculpatory agreements that purported to relieve child care providers of liability for their own negligence were void as against public policy.


The superior court’s judgment was reversed and remanded with respect to the family’s claims for breach of contract and negligence.