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Sikes v. Heritage Oaks West Retirement Village (238 S.W.3d 807)

Sikes v. Heritage Oaks West Retirement VillageArticles: Texas

Sikes v. Heritage Oaks West Retirement Village (238 S.W.3d 807)

CASE:
Sikes v. Heritage Oaks West Retirement Village (238 S.W.3d 807)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Eugenia Ginger Sikes, on behalf of the estate of Joel Sikes (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Heritage Oaks West Retirement Village
COURT:
Court of Appeals of Texas (2007)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Eugenia Sikes, wife of Joel Sikes, sued Heritage Oaks West Retirement Village for malpractice following Joel’s death. Heritage moved to compel arbitration. The trial court granted the motion, ordering the case to arbitration. Eugenia appealed.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

Joel Sikes was moved from his home into Heritage Oaks West Retirement Village. At the time of his admission, his wife, Eugenia Sikes filled out the necessary paperwork to have Joel admitted. One of the documents included in the paperwork was a Dispute Resolution Plan which was, essentially, an agreement that all disputes between the parties be handled through binding arbitration.

Eugenia signed the document on the line labeled “Power of Attorney/Guardian’s Signature.” There is no proof that, at the time these documents were signed, Eugenia was Joel Sikes’ guardian, nor had she been granted power of attorney.  There is also no evidence that Joel was incapacitated or otherwise incapable of signing the documents upon his admittance into the facility. After Joel’s death, Eugenia brought a malpractice claim against the nursing home.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The trial court found that Eugenia acted with apparent authority, making the agreement valid. They granted Heritage’s motion to compel arbitration.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

Did the trail court err in holding the agreement valid and compelling arbitration?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“A party seeking to compel arbitration must establish that: (1) there is a valid arbitration agreement; and (2) the claims raised fall within the agreement’s scope.”

  • In re Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 166 S.W.3d 732, 737 (Tex.2005)

Without actions by the principal, “no mere combination of circumstances which may mislead persons into a false inference of authority, however reasonable, will serve as a predicate for apparent authority.”

  • Hall v. F.A. Halamicek Enters, Inc., 669 S.W.2d 368, 375 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 1984, no writ)

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