Nail v. Consolidated Resources Health Care Fund (155 Wash.App. 227, 229 P.3d 885)

washington-elder-abuse-nursing-home-199x300Articles: Washington

Nail v. Consolidated Resources Health Care Fund (155 Wash.App. 227, 229 P.3d 885)

CASE:
Nail v. Consolidated Resources Health Care Fund (155 Wash.App. 227, 229 P.3d 885)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Joyce Nail, Personal Representative of the Estate of Ellen Schrimpf
Defendant (Appellant) – Consolidate Resources Healthcare Fund, owner/operator of Alderwood Manor Nursing and Convalescent Home
COURT:
Court of Appeals of Washington (2010)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Joyce Nail, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Ellen Schrimpf, filed a negligence and wrongful death suit against Alderwood Manor. Alderwood moved to compel arbitration in accordance with an arbitration entered into by Ms. Schrimpf and Alderwood. The trial court denied Alderwood’s motion. Alderwood appealed.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Ms. Schrimpf was admitted the Alderwood Manor in April of 2005. When she arrived, she signed the arbitration agreement stating the parties agree “to arbitrate any dispute that might arise between Ellen Schrimpf (the “Resident) and Alderwood Manor (the “facility”).” The agreement stated an arbitration hearing must be before three arbitrators, “selected from the American Arbitration Association (AAA),” and “the arbitrators shall apply the applicable rules of procedure of the AAA.”

The agreement specified that each party would select one arbitrator and the two selected were to select the third arbitrator. Before the parties entered into their arbitration agreement, the AAA issued a “Healthcare Policy Statement” stating that the AAA would no longer accept the administration of cases involving individual patients without a post- dispute agreement to arbitrate.

Ms. Schrimpf left Alderwood to have surgery. Upon re- admittance, she signed another, identical, arbitration agreement. That night, Ms. Schrimpf fell out of her bed, hitting her head. She was taken to the hospital where she later died.

Ms. Nail, as Personal Representative to Ms. Schrimpf, sued Alderwood manor for negligence and wrongful death. The parties did not sign a post- dispute arbitration agreement. Ms. Nail refused to stipulate to arbitration and instead moved to oppose it.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The trial court chose to not enforce the pre- dispute arbitration agreement, allowing the case to move forward to trial.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

Did the trial court err in ruling that the parties’ pre- dispute arbitration agreement was wholly unenforceable without the post- dispute agreement contemplated in the AAA’s Healthcare Policy Statement?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“The AAA’s healthcare policy statement is not a rule of procedure that invalidates pre- dispute arbitration agreements; rather it is AAA’s expression of wisdom guiding what cases it will accept for administration.”

The court ruled that only the method for selecting arbitrators failed as a result of the healthcare policy statement, and they remanded so the court could appoint other arbitrators so the parties could proceed in accordance with the original arbitration agreement.

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