Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a nursing home negligence case brought by the estate of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. The main issue presented for the court was whether the arbitration agreement signed by the resident’s daughter could bind the resident’s estate to arbitrate any claims it had against the nursing home. Ultimately, the court determined that the arbitration agreement was not binding against the estate, and it allowed the case to proceed through the court system.
The plaintiff in the case was the executor of the estate of a woman who had died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. When the resident was admitted to the facility, she was not competent to make her own medical decisions, so her daughter was there to assist her. Once the daughter identified the nursing home facility that she thought would be best for her mother, she signed a “Voluntary Arbitration Agreement and Acknowledgement,” stating that any claims that arose from the facility’s care of the resident would be settled through arbitration rather than through the court system.
At the time the daughter signed the form, the daughter did not have power of attorney for her mother. In fact, it was undisputed that she was merely acting as a health care proxy for her mother. However, the daughter signed the agreement, indicating she was her mother’s legal representative, but she listed her relationship as “proxy” later in the form.
Unfortunately, during the resident’s stay at the facility, she was injured and later passed away from complications related to the injuries. The resident’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility, and in response the facility sought to compel arbitration. The lower court granted the nursing home’s motion for summary judgment, based on the signed arbitration agreement, and the estate appealed.
On appeal, the court held that the arbitration agreement could not be enforced against the resident or her estate. The court explained that these types of agreements can only be binding against the parties that enter into them, unless one of the parties has power of attorney for a third party. Here, it was undisputed that the daughter did not have power of attorney for her mother, so she did not have the legal authority to bind her mother, or her mother’s estate, to arbitration.
Do You Have a Loved One in a Florida Nursing Home?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of neglect or abuse in a South Florida nursing home, you or your loved one may be entitled to monetary compensation. This may even be the case if someone signed an arbitration agreement. To learn more about Florida nursing home cases, and to speak with a dedicated personal injury attorney about your case, call 954-431-8100 to schedule a free consultation today.
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