Diversicare Leasing Corp. v. HubbardAnnotate this Case
Diversicare Leasing Corp. d/b/a Canterbury Healthcare Facility ("Canterbury") appealed an order denying its motion seeking to compel arbitration of a wrongful-death claim filed by Betty Hubbard, as the personal representative of the estate of Johnathan Hubbard. Johnathan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was six months old, which caused him to be developmentally delayed and to suffer from a seizure disorder. Johnathan could not walk and was confined to a wheelchair his entire life. He could not speak; he could not feed, clean, or dress himself; he had no use of his hands; and he could not otherwise communicate his needs to others. Johnathan spent various periods of his life in residential-care facilities. Betty made all health-care decisions relating to Johnathan's care and executed all documents in furtherance of that care. Betty executed a number of documents upon Johnathan's admission to Canterbury, including the admission agreement and the arbitration agreement made the basis of this appeal. Johnathan was found unresponsive by the Canterbury staff in early 2011, and was transferred to a local hospital. Johnathan was diagnosed with sepsis; he died on February 21, 2011. Betty sued Canterbury asserting a wrongful-death claim. Canterbury moved the trial court to compel arbitration of Betty's wrongful-death claim and to stay the claim pending the arbitration. Betty argued in response to the motion to compel that she lacked the legal authority to bind Johnathan to the arbitration agreement because at the time the agreement was executed Johnathan was incapacitated and was 21 years old and had reached the age of majority, and she did not hold his power of attorney nor had she been appointed his personal representative or guardian by any court. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order denying Canterbury's motion to compel arbitration and to stay the proceedings. Canterbury appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that Betty could not be bound to the arbitration agreement in her capacity as the personal representative of Johnathan's estate when she signed the arbitration agreement in what amounts to her capacity as Johnathan's relative or next friend.