Arbitration Clauses in Florida Nursing Home Agreements

In Mendez, Jr. v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, the Third District Court of Appeal of the state of Florida has held that an arbitration contract signed by a father in a nursing home during the admission was valid even when the son was not given the power of attorney by the father to do so.

A physician who worked at the nursing home stated that he assumed that the father did not have the capacity to make serious decisions about his health and medical care. Thus, the patient’s son (who did not have power of attorney) went ahead and signed health care documents and an agreement on his father’s behalf. These documents contained an arbitration clause.

While the father was still admitted to the nursing home, his eye became infected, and it had to be taken out. At a later time, the father gave power of attorney to his son. The son eventually filed a negligence lawsuit against the nursing home for the care given to his father. Negligence is a legal principle that refers to the failure to take proper care when doing something. Put another way, negligence is the failure to take reasonable care in one’s actions or omissions.

The nursing home filed a motion to compel arbitration. The facility stated that the father was bound to the arbitration clause contained in the documents the son had signed earlier. The son claimed that his father was in no way a part of the arbitration agreement and thus was not bound by it. The trial court granted the nursing home’s motion.

The Third District had a different approach for this case than the Fifth District used in a similar case. The Fifth District`s main focus was on whether the woman who was the subject of the agreement had approved it in some way through her conduct or actions, and whether that approval led to the husband having the permission to sign the agreement on account of his wife.

In this case, the Third District looked at the father`s status as a third-party beneficiary of the contract. Thus, the issue at hand was not whether the son had actual or apparent authority to execute the agreement. Instead, the relevant issue was whether the father accepted the benefits of the contract and was a third-party beneficiary of it. Since the father continued to live at the nursing home and accepted care due to the contract, the court determined that he was indeed a third-party beneficiary who was bound to the entire contract, including its arbitration provision.

If someone close to you has been hurt by negligence in a nursing home facility, you should seek the help of an experienced Florida nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible, especially if you signed an arbitration agreement. We understand that this is a stressful time for you and your family, which is why we will handle your case with the highest level of compassion. To learn all your legal options, do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

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