Aurora Healthcare, Inc. v. RamseyAnnotate this Case
Aurora Healthcare, Inc., Aurora Cares, LLC, (d/b/a Tara Cares) and Birmingham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center East, LLC appealed a circuit court order that denied their motion to compel arbitration. Mary Pettway, then 75 years old, was discharged from the hospital at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and admitted to a nursing home in Birmingham owned and operated by the defendants. She was returned to the hospital and then readmitted to the nursing home twice in the weeks following her initial discharge. Upon Pettway's first readmission, an arbitration agreement was executed, along with the other admission documents, on her behalf. Pettway was finally returned to the hospital, where she died on December 10, 2003. Sharon Ramsey, in her capacity as administratrix of Pettway's estate, filed a complaint against the defendants. The complaint asserted a variety of statutory and common-law claims allegedly arising from Pettway's death, including a wrongful-death claim. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss or for a change of venue. The parties litigated the issue of venue vigorously until the Wilcox Circuit Court entered an order transferring the case to the Jefferson Circuit Court. The "Aurora" defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that they did not own the nursing home at which Pettway resided during the relevant period. Because the Supreme Court concluded that there was insufficient evidence in the record to support a determination that Ramsey was substantially prejudiced by defendants' belated assertion of their right to arbitration, "the order of the circuit court denying the defendants' motion to compel arbitration must be reversed. We are unable to determine, however, whether this case is due to be arbitrated." Accordingly, the Court reversed the circuit court's order denying the defendants' motion to compel arbitration. The Court remanded the case for that court to consider the motion to compel arbitration in light of the issues associated with the validity and scope of the arbitration agreement proffered by the defendants.