A Florida nursing home has lost its bid to compel arbitration in the case of a woman who alleges her husband suffered injury as a result of nursing home negligence while a patient there. Although the trial court had ruled the case should go to arbitration, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed, finding the claims raised by the estate of the decedent resident were not within the scope of the arbitration agreement. The reason? It had been signed with a different company entirely.
That’s right. Defendant was attempting to use the arbitration agreement decedent had signed with his assisted living facility provider to require the complainant to resolve her allegation of negligence against the nursing home before an arbitrator rather than a court. The primary reason the trial court had Ok’d this was because the nursing home and the assisted living facility were owned by the same company. Further, there was a provision in the assisted living facility arbitration agreement in which it was stated that the agreement would remain in place, regardless of whether the patient was transferred to and from the facility. Upon readmission, that agreement would still remain in effect. It was to be understood the arbitration agreement was applicable to all future admissions.
Trial court had relied on this provision in granting defense motion to compel arbitration. However, the 2nd DCA reviewing Olson v. Florida Living Options reversed.
The appellate record does not clearly state the kind of negligence the nursing home was alleged to have committed or the exact injury inflicted on patient as a result. Plaintiff, as representative of his estate, filed this lawsuit in January 2015. In response, the nursing home filed a motion to compel arbitration. The nursing home relied on an arbitration agreement entered into when decedent was admitted to the assisted living facility in March 2013. Defendant nursing home alleged that their affiliation with the assisted living facility as part of the same retirement community meant that the arbitration applied to them as well. Both companies had the same administrator. The parent company, Florida Living Options, was the sole member of both the nursing home and the assisted living facility.
However, our Orlando nursing home negligence lawyers know what was not in dispute was that the two providers were separate businesses. They were separate facilities and they had separate admissions procedures. Patients did not move about freely from one to the other – they were admitted and then discharged.
When decedent was admitted to the skilled nursing facility from the assisted living facility, he signed a “contract” with that company. Nowhere in that contract did there exist an arbitration agreement. Further, nothing in plaintiff’s complaint indicated that negligence on the part of the assisted living facility had played a role in decedent’s injuries.
The language of the arbitration agreement with the assisted living facility indicates it’s applicable to include within its scope any and all claims arising out of or in any way relating to the resident’s stay “at this facility.” Defendant was relying on the clause of “in any way relating to,” but the only facility named in that agreement was the assisted living center – not the nursing home. Therefore, the case against the nursing home may proceed to trial.
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Olson v. Florida Living Options , Sept. 9, 2016, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal
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