Earlier this month, the District Court of Appeal of Florida’s Second District issued a written opinion in a nursing home negligence case, invalidating an arbitration agreement signed by one of the resident’s sons. As a result of the court’s decision, the estate of the deceased resident will not be required to argue their claim in front of an arbitration panel, and may file a personal injury case in the Florida court system.
The nursing home resident was admitted into a nursing home in 2013. Before admission, her son, who had valid power of attorney for his mother, signed the nursing home contract. Included in the contract was an arbitration clause by which the parties agreed any claims arising from the resident’s admission would be settled through arbitration rather than the court system.
Later, the nursing home was acquired by another company. The nursing home claimed that a subsequent agreement was made to replace the old nursing home’s name with the new nursing home’s name. However, this was never admitted into evidence. At some point the resident was injured while in the care of the new nursing home and her estate later filed a personal injury claim against the nursing home.
The nursing home attempted to compel arbitration pursuant to the contract signed by the resident’s son. However, the court determined that the arbitration clause specifically was not enforceable. The court explained that there was no evidence of a subsequent agreement replacing the old nursing home with the new one. The court continued to explain that the original contract had no clause indicating that the contract would apply to successors in interest, such as the new nursing home.
The court additionally held that the son’s execution of the original contract could not bind the woman (or her estate) to arbitration. The court explained that the son did not have the legal authority to waive his mother’s right to use the court system in the event a problem arose. This decision is in line with recent holdings across the country that arbitration agreements signed by parties other than the resident are to be viewed as invalid.
Has Your Loved One Been Injured in a Florida Nursing Home?
If you have a loved one in a Florida nursing home, and you are concerned that they may not be getting the attention they need or that they have been abused by staff, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Cecere Santana have decades of collective experience assisting their clients in pursuing cases against abusive and negligent nursing homes. Call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable and compassionate personal injury attorney. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
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Failure to Follow Procedural Rules May Result in Delay or Dismissal of Florida Personal Injury Cases, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 2, 2017.