The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a nursing home can enforce an arbitration clause signed by a patient upon admission when her estate later sued for wrongful death. The 11th Circuit reversed a judgment in the case. The patient was admitted to a nursing home in Alabama after suffering a major heart attack. At the time of her admission, the patient signed a contract requiring the arbitration of “all claims or disputes” that she or the executor of her future estate might have against the nursing home. Shortly after being admitted, the patient suffered another heart attack and died.
The executor of the patient’s estate sued the nursing home for wrongful death. The executor contended he was not bound by the arbitration clause because he was not a party to the agreement. But the 11th Circuit held that the executor was required to arbitrate the wrongful death suit under applicable Alabama law. The Court, in its opinion, said:
The holdings of the Alabama Supreme Court’s majority opinions in [three similar wrongful death cases] establish the rule that an executor suing a nursing home for wrongful death is bound by an arbitration agreement that binds the decedent. It is undisputed that the decedent in our case, like the decedents in [those cases], was bound by the arbitration agreement with the nursing home. For that reason, the agreement that [the patient] signed binds the executor of her estate to arbitrate the wrongful death claim, and the district court should have compelled arbitration.
This decision is not good for the families of residents in nursing homes. Neither is it good for the actual residents since it projects bad conduct. It’s effect will deny justice to folks who themselves are hurt or who have had loved ones who died because of a nursing home’s wrongdoing. The case is U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit, Entrekin v. Internal Medicine Associates of Dothan, No. 11-10730. Aug. 9, 2012. Lawyers USA No. 993-3423.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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