State Appeals Court Finds Signed Arbitration Agreement Invalid and Reverses Lower Court’s Order

A Florida appellate court recently released an opinion in a case involving the potential wrongful death of a nursing home resident. The deceased individual was admitted to the nursing home in April 2013. On the day after her admittance, the woman’s daughter signed and accepted the position of “health care proxy” on behalf of her mother. Although this proxy was signed, the plaintiff’s mother never executed a durable power of attorney in her daughter’s favor.

ContractWithin the first week of the resident’s admittance, her daughter signed a voluntary arbitration agreement. This agreement outlined what a legal representative was, and the daughter signed in the space designated for a legal representative’s signature. Importantly, the agreement stated that the nursing home could not require a person to sign the agreement unless the person had legal access or physical control of the resident’s income and resources.

Unfortunately, at some point after her admission, the resident sustained injuries that resulted in her death. The plaintiff, the resident’s estate, then filed a lawsuit against the nursing home. The nursing home responded by filing a motion to dismiss, attempting to compel arbitration. The trial court found the arbitration agreement was valid and granted the defendant’s motions.

The resident’s estate appealed, arguing that the deceased resident was not bound by the arbitration agreement because a health care proxy does not have the authority to waive the right to a jury trial. During this trial, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion in a very similar case, finding in favor of the nursing home resident. As a result, the court reversed the trial court’s finding that compelled arbitration, and the case was remanded so that the case could proceed toward trial.

The Implications of Signing an Arbitration Agreement in New Mexico

Arbitration is essentially a form of alternative dispute resolution. Essentially, the premise behind arbitration is that in the event that a dispute arises between two parties, the parties will not use the court system and instead will resolve their issues through an arbitrator. People sign and agree to arbitration much more frequently than they realize. Arbitration agreements are often signed before entering amusement parks, purchasing furniture, or even in medical situations such as the one discussed above.

Have You Signed an Arbitration Agreement and Then Been Injured?

If you or a loved one has been injured in any kind of New Mexico accident, you should contact a nursing home abuse attorney at the Fine Law Firm to assist you in your lawsuit. It is possible that you signed an arbitration agreement without knowing it; however, there are certain circumstances in which even a signed agreement can be invalidated. The attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have decades of combined experience handling all kinds of personal injury and wrongful death matters. We can provide you with zealous representation to make sure your interests are protected. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm at 505-889-FINE today to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of School in Slip-and-Fall Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 7, 2017.

New Mexico Bill Targets Repeat DWI Offenders, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 18, 2017.