Articles Posted in Arbitration Clauses / Contracts

In a recent HCLA case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, agreeing that the arbitration agreement was an unenforceable contract of adhesion.

In Stancil v. Dominion Crossville, LLC, No. E2021-01378-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. July 29, 2022), plaintiff filed an HCLA claim on behalf of her mother (who died while this litigation was pending) based on the care she received at defendant nursing home. At the time of the mother’s admission to the nursing home, she had dementia, so plaintiff signed the admission documents on her behalf as her durable general power of attorney and durable power of attorney for health care.

After plaintiff filed this suit, defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration based on an arbitration provision in the admission contract. Considering the evidence presented, the trial court denied the motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed this denial.

Where the person who executed an arbitration agreement in connection with decedent’s admission to a nursing home had a power of attorney for decedent, but that power of attorney did not mention the ability to make health care decisions, the arbitration agreement was unenforceable. Further, decedent’s wrongful death beneficiaries would not have been bound by the arbitration agreement even if it were enforceable.

In Williams v. Smyrna Residential, LLC, No. M2021-00927-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. April 8 2022), plaintiff was the son of decedent, who died while he was a resident at defendant assisted living center. Plaintiff filed this wrongful death action on behalf of decedent’s wrongful death beneficiaries. In response to the complaint, defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration. According to defendant, decedent’s daughter had executed an arbitration agreement on decedent’s behalf when decedent was admitted to the facility. At the time, the daughter was the named attorney-in-fact in decedent’s durable power of attorney (POA). Plaintiff argued that the arbitration agreement was not enforceable because the POA did not mention the authority to make health care decisions, and the trial court agreed, denying the motion to compel arbitration. On appeal, this ruling was affirmed.

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