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Appeals Court Refuses to Compel Arbitration in Brandenburg Nursing Home Abuse Case

file000831184585 morguefile username clickThe Kentucky Court of Appeals has affirmed a circuit court’s order denying arbitration in a nursing home abuse case. In Extendicare, Inc. v. Sandage, a woman entered a Brandenburg skilled nursing facility in 2011. When the woman entered the nursing home, her daughter signed numerous agreements on the woman’s behalf using a power of attorney. One of those documents was a voluntary alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) agreement that stated any disputes between the long term care facility and the woman would be resolved through binding arbitration. The woman lived at the nursing home until April 2012.

In September 2012, the resident’s daughter filed a personal injury case in Meade County Circuit Court against the nursing home and its associated corporate entities on the woman’s behalf. According to the woman’s complaint, the nursing home violated its duty of care to the resident. In response, the nursing home filed a motion to compel arbitration based on the terms of the ADR agreement the woman’s daughter signed prior to the woman’s admission to the facility. After the circuit court denied the nursing home’s motion, the company filed an interlocutory appeal with the Kentucky Court of Appeals. In general, an interlocutory appeal seeks review of a court’s decision before each claim in a case is finally resolved. Such an interim appeal is normally filed when allowing a case to proceed without further review might result in irreparable prejudice to the rights of one of the parties to a lawsuit.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals discussed recent Kentucky Supreme Court case law, which held that a nursing home resident could not be forced to arbitrate her claims against a skilled nursing facility if her child signed a dispute resolution agreement on the resident’s behalf using a general durable power of attorney. In addition, the Supreme Court also held that a durable power of attorney is not sufficient to allow an individual to execute an optional ADR agreement on another person’s behalf in the Commonwealth.

After examining the power of attorney at issue in the case at hand, the appellate court held that the circuit court did not commit error when it denied the nursing home’s motion to compel arbitration because the document failed to provide the resident’s daughter with the authority to execute a voluntary and collateral ADR agreement that waived the woman’s right to avail herself of the court system. Since the case was not distinguishable from Kentucky Supreme Court and other precedent, the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s order denying the nursing facility’s motion to compel binding arbitration.

If you or a loved one suffered abuse or neglect in a Kentucky nursing home, you should discuss your rights with an experienced Bowling Green lawyer. To schedule a confidential consultation with a caring Kentucky nursing home negligence attorney, please call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP at (270) 781-6500 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Extendicare, Inc. v. Sandage, Ky: Court of Appeals 2014

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