The Devil is in the Details
When it comes to avoiding an arbitration clause in a nursing home agreement we all know the devil is in the details. Who signed the agreement, who is bound by the agreement, and the exact language of the agreement are all looked at microscopically to determine whether an arbitration clause is applicable.
Del Ciotto vs. Pa. Hospital is a September 7, 2016, decision from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas which upheld an arbitration clause. The matter went on to arbitration where there was a finding in favor of the nursing home by the arbitrator. The Court went on to enter judgment on the arbitration decision.
In Del Ciotto, the plaintiff attempted to fight the transfer of his case to arbitration. Yet in his particular case, he did not fit into any category which would allow that fight to be successful.
The details: The cause of action was for wrongful death and survival. Plaintiff was the sole heir and the arbitration agreement he signed specifically included him individually in its scope. In Pisano v. Extendicare Homes, Inc., 2013 Pa.Super. 232, the court found that wrongful death claimants who had not signed an arbitration agreement with a nursing home on behalf of a family member “were not bound by decedents’ contract for arbitration and their claims should remain before the court even though survivor claims must be heard in a non-court setting.” Under contract law, a person not a party to the contract could not be bound by it. In Pisano, the person holding power of attorney who signed the admission contract did not participate in the wrongful death claim.
Unlike Pisano, the language of the document that plaintiff in Del Ciotto signed specifically bound him “both in his representative and individual capacity.” All claims were bound by the arbitration agreement.
Just as I told you, the devil is in the details.