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Mannion v. Manor Care, Inc. (2006 WL 6012873 (Pa.Com.Pl), 4 Pa. D. & C. 5th 321)

Nursing-home-abuse-neglect-Pennsylvania-elderly-woman-300x200Articles: Pennsylvania

Mannion v. Manor Care, Inc. (2006 WL 6012873 (Pa.Com.Pl), 4 Pa. D. & C. 5th 321)

CASE:
Mannion v. Manor Care, Inc. (2006 WL 6012873 (Pa.Com.Pl), 4 Pa. D. & C. 5th 321)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Edith Mannion, Administratrix for the Estate of Marian Flueso (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Manor Care, Inc.
COURT:
Court of Common Pleas of Pennsylvania, Lehigh County (2006)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Plaintiff commenced an action against defendant nursing home to recover money damages on behalf of the estate of her mother and on her own behalf under the Wrongful Death and Survival Acts. Defendant made a preliminary objection to the complaint, arguing that the dispute must be submitted to arbitration.
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
On or about January 13, 2004, Ms. Flueso (deceased) was admitted to the Manor Care nursing home facility. She was transferred there from Sacred Heart Hospital where she had been a patient. At the time she was transferred, she was in a confused state. Her daughter, Ms. Mannion (plaintiff), held a power of attorney authorizing her to act on Ms. Flueso’s behalf. At the time of the transfer, Ms. Mannion was under great pressure to act promptly in moving her mother from the hospital. Ms. Mannion received the 21 page admission document via fax. She admits to not reading all of the documents carefully before signing and faxing them back. Incorporated in the admission packet was a 6 page agreement entitled “Arbitration and Limitation of Liability Agreement.” This section essentially outlined the fact that any and all claims related to the resident’s stay and care at the facility would be handled through binding arbitration.
OUTCOME AT TRIAL:
The court sustained the objection and ordered the case be submitted to arbitration.
ISSUES ON APPEAL:
Whether the arbitration and limitation of liability agreement signed by the Plaintiff when she admitted her mother to the nursing home was a) a contract of adhesion; or 2) unconscionable.
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
The court found that the agreement signed by the plaintiff was enforceable for 2 main reasons.

 

1) There was no evidence that the agreement was in fact a prerequisite for Ms. Flueso’s admission to the Manor Care facility. While she may have had no meaningful choice but to sign, that was due to her state of mind in the emergency conditions under which she was functioning when she signed the agreement.

2) The agreement permitted the signatory (plaintiff) to withdraw her consent to arbitration within three business days after execution of the agreement. There was no indication in the agreement that the consequence of revocation would be the discharge of Ms. Flueso from the facility.

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