Long-term care facilities often require people to sign contracts prior to admission. Such contracts generally set forth the expectations of both parties, but they may also impact a resident’s right to pursue damages for medical malpractice. This was demonstrated in a recent New York case in which a court upheld an arbitration clause in a short-term admission agreement, dismissing the plaintiff’s medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. If you or someone you love suffered injuries due to the incompetence of a medical provider, you may be owed damages, and you should speak to a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer to evaluate your options for protecting your interests.
The Facts of the Case
It is reported that the decedent was admitted to a rehabilitation and healthcare center in Pennsylvania that was owned and operated by the defendant. At the time of her admission, she signed a short-term admission agreement that, in relevant part, contained numerous provisions stating that disputes between residents and the facility and medical malpractice claims against the facility must be resolved by mediation or arbitration.
Allegedly, the decedent later passed away, after which the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants in a federal court sitting in New York, alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. The defendant moved to dismiss the case, citing the mandatory arbitration provisions. The court ultimately granted the motion in part, staying the matter pending arbitration.
Mandatory Arbitration in Medical Malpractice Cases
The court explained that a motion to dismiss due to an arbitration clause is treated as a motion to compel arbitration. Courts may resolve motions to compel arbitration prior to addressing whether a matter should be dismissed due to lack of personal jurisdiction or forum nonconveniens.
When evaluating a motion to compel arbitration, a court will employ a standard similar to that used when assessing a motion for summary judgment. In other words, the court will weigh all relevant and admissible evidence the parties offer, like pleadings, discovery responses, admissions, and deposition testimony, and draw all inferences that are reasonable in favor of the non-moving party.
Trials are required in cases in which there are factual disputes regarding the formation of the agreement to arbitrate, but when the undisputed facts of record require the issue of arbitrability to be determined against one side as a matter of law, the court may rule on that issue and avoid further proceedings. Here, the court found that the language of the agreement was clear and unambiguous, and the defendant could invoke the agreement against the plaintiff as she was the administratrix of the decedent’s estate. Thus, the court granted the motion.
Meet with a Trusted Rochester Attorney
When the people entrusted with caring for people cause them harm instead, it can cause significant emotional and financial losses. If you lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss what compensation you may be able to recover. The trusted Rochester attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at holding negligent providers accountable, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly to help you seek the best legal outcome available. You can reach us via the online form or by calling 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.