A Kentucky appellate court has held that a nursing home arbitration agreement without specific language allowing an attorney-in-fact to waive a resident’s right to a jury trial was enforceable because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
In reversing the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, the appeals panel turned to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, 137 S.Ct. 1421 (2017). In the Kindred Nursing Centers case, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts the state’s “clear statement rule,” which requires a power of attorney to contain an explicit authorization before an attorney-in-fact may waive a principal’s constitutional right to a jury trial. It was held that this case is substantively similar to the Kindred case.
In the underlying lawsuit, Jamie Free was admitted to Regis Woods Care and Rehabilitation Center, a long-term care facility. As she was being admitted, Jamie’s daughter, Reyetta Smith, signed an arbitration agreement in her individual and representative capacity. Smith later sued the facility and others claiming common law and statutory violations. The defendant moved to compel arbitration. The trial judge denied the motion on the basis that the power of attorney did not grant Smith express authority to sign the arbitration agreement on her mother’s behalf.