Grant v. Magnolia Manor- Greenwood, Inc. (383 S.C.125, 678 S.E.2d 435)

elderly-man-south-carolina-nursing-home-abuse-300x198Articles: South Carolina

Grant v. Magnolia Manor- Greenwood, Inc. (383 S.C.125, 678 S.E.2d 435)

CASE:
Grant v. Magnolia Manor- Greenwood, Inc. (383 S.C.125, 678 S.E.2d 435)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – James Grant, Individually and as personal representative of the estate of Lessie Mae Grant
Defendant (Appellant) – Magnolia Manor- Greenwood, Inc.
COURT:
Supreme Court of South Carolina (2009)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Grant, personally and as a representative for the estate of his late wife, filed a wrongful death claim against Magnolia Manor- Greenwood. Magnolia Manor filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court denied Magnolia Manor’s motion. They appealed the decision.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Lessie Mae Grant was admitted to Magnolia Manor- Greenwood nursing home on December 4, 2003 at the age of 72. Upon admission, Lessie Mae’s husband (the named defendant in this case) executed an admission contract on behalf of Lessie Mae, who was unable to sign the contract herself.

The admission contract contained an arbitration provision stating that any action or dispute between the resident and the nursing home be resolved by binding arbitration. The National Health Lawyers Association (“NHLA”) was designated as the administrator of any arbitration proceedings. The NHLA later became known as the American Healthcare Lawyers Association, or “AHLA.”

On January 1, 2004, the AHLA amended its rules for binding arbitrating health care liability claims. Under the new rules, the AHLA would only arbitrate claims pursuant to arbitration agreements entered into after the alleged injury occurred. Grant and Magnolia Manor never modified the admission agreement to reflect the AHLA policy change.

On January 11, 2005, Lessie Mae fell and sustained a large hematoma above her left eye. Five days later, she died as a result of the injury.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The circuit court denied Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration, finding that the AHLA had become unavailable as an arbitrator, and that the designation of the AHLA as arbitrator was a material term in the arbitration agreement between the parties.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

1)     Did the circuit court err in finding the arbitration agreement void and unenforceable because of the unavailability of the designated arbitrator?

2)     Did the circuit court err in failing to appoint substitute arbitrator or in failing to allow the parties to consent to a substitute arbitrator in accordance with Section 5 of the Federal Arbitration Act?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:

1)     No

2)     No

RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“In order to have a valid and enforceable contract, there must be a meeting of the minds between the parties with regard to all essential material terms of the contract.”

  • Player v. Chandler, 299 S.C. 101, 105, 382 S.E.2d 891 (1989)

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