Appellate Court Finds Nursing Home Cannot Force Arbitration in Wrongful Death Claim

An Ohio Appellate Court has held that an arbitration agreement signed by the son of a resident at the time of the father’s admission to a nursing home did not justify compelled arbitration. Marcus Vickers signed an arbitration agreement when his father, Jack Johnson, was admitted to the Canal Pointe Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

After Johnson’s death, his son, Marcus Vickers, filed suit against the nursing home for negligence and wrongful death.  The lawsuit alleged survivorship as well as wrongful death claims.

The defendant nursing home filed a motion to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration.  The trial judge granted the nursing home’s motion and Vickers appealed.

The appellate court reversed in part noting that whether an arbitration clause applies to a party’s claim is a question of contract interpretation, adding that only signatories are bound by the terms of an arbitration clause. Furthermore, the court said it must be determined whether a party agreed to arbitrate was the central issue.

The appellate court found that the plaintiff, Vickers, signed the arbitration agreement as his father’s representative, not in his individual capacity.

Thus the court concluded Vickers cannot be forced to arbitrate his own wrongful death claim against the nursing home. A wrongful death claim is a personal action brought by the next-of-kin of an individual who has died at the cause of negligence.  Consequently, the court sent the case back to the trial court for further disposition and trial.

The attorney representing the Jack Johnson family and Marcus Vickers was Martin S. Delahunty.

Vickers v. Canal Pointe Nursing Home & Rehab Center, 2016 WL 3080329 (Ohio Ct. App. June 1, 2016).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases, nursing home negligence cases and medical malpractice cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Inverness, Schiller Park, Tinley Park, Evanston, Morton Grove, Naperville, Flossmoor, Olympia Fields, River Grove, Elmhurst, Elmwood Park, Melrose Park, Harwood Heights and Cicero, Ill.

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