Broemmer v. Abortion Services of Phoenix
173 Ariz. 148, 840 P.2d 1013 (Ariz. 1992)
- Broemmer goes to get an abortion. She is asked to fill out papers including an arbitration agreement that says if there is any dispute, it will be submitted to arbitration under the American Arbitration Association.
- Arbitrator would be a doctor, and that’s advantageous to the clinic.
- Also, arbitrators tend to award less in damages than juries.
- But, since some potential jury members are very against abortion conceptually, Broemmer might actually have been better off with the arbitrator.
- She is injured during the procedure and attempts to sue. The clinic argues that the case should be dismissed because it’s supposed to go to arbitration.
- The Trial Court ruled that they did not have subject matter jurisdiction because the arbitration agreement was in effect. They dismissed the case. Broemmer appealed.
- Appellate Court affirms.
- Appellate Court ruled that, although the contract was one of adhesion, it was enforceable because it was within reasonable expectations and was not unconscionable.
- A contract of adhesion is a standardized form that essentially has a take it or leave it clause.
- Arizona Supreme Court reversed and said that Broemmer can still sue, in spite of the arbitration agreement.
- The Court said that there are two factors which must be considered:
- Reasonable expectations of the adhering party
- Whether the contract is unconscionable. (It just seems wrong)
- The Court found that there was unequal bargaining power.
- The Court says that the agreement is out of line with Broemmer’s reasonable expectations.
- An adherent of a contract of adhesion won’t be bound to unknown terms if those terms are beyond the range of reasonable expectations. They will be bound to such terms if they are within the range of reasonable expectations.
- There was a dissent that basically said that contracts of adhesion involve a duty to read. It was very clear what the waiver said, so why is Broemmer allowed to get out of a clear contract that they signed?
- In general, Courts dislike clauses that limit liability in personal injury cases