Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a case against a California nursing home. The case required the court to determine if an arbitration agreement, signed by the resident’s adult daughter, was valid and enforceable. Ultimately, the court affirmed the lower court’s finding that there was substantial evidence suggesting that the resident’s daughter did not have the authority to sign the form and agree to submit any subsequent claims to arbitration. Thus, the court rejected the facility’s request to force the case into arbitration.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s mother was a resident at the defendant nursing home. The plaintiff’s mother had a history of diabetes, dementia, end-stage renal disease, generalized muscle weakness, and other debilitating conditions. At some point during her stay, the plaintiff’s mother required hospitalization. Upon her mother being re-admitted to the facility after being discharged from the hospital, the plaintiff signed a two-page document containing an agreement to arbitrate any claims arising out of the facility’s care of her mother. The plaintiff signed on her mother’s behalf. The plaintiff’s mother did not sign the document.
Later, the plaintiff’s mother passed away from a worsening medical condition. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility, and the facility moved to compel arbitration, based on the agreement signed by the plaintiff. The plaintiff argued that the agreement was invalid because, at the time that she signed it, she did not have the legal ability to sign away her mother’s right to access the court system.
Each side presented evidence supporting its position. The facility had an employee testify that the plaintiff’s mother seemed coherent at the time and gave the plaintiff verbal permission to sign the document. The plaintiff, however, testified that the document was presented to her while her mother was not present and after her mother had already been admitted. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff, finding the plaintiff’s version of events more credible.
The nursing facility appealed, arguing that the plaintiff had the legal authority to sign on behalf of her mother. However, on appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The court explained that it was bound by the credibility determinations of the lower court, and since that court’s decision in favor of the plaintiff was supported by the plaintiff’s testimony, it would not reverse that court’s finding.
Has Your Loved One Suffered Unnecessarily in a Nursing Home?
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, and you believe that they have unnecessarily suffered due to the abuse or neglect of nursing home employees, contact Sharifi Firm, APC. At our Southern California personal injury law firm, we represent clients in all types of injury claims, including wrongful death claims arising from nursing home abuse and neglect. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries that your loved one has endured, call 866-422-7222 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you recover compensation.