The appeal arose after the trial court denied to enforce a physician’s petition to compel arbitration of the wrongful death action filed by the adult children of the patient but did enforce against the patient’s wife.  Wife agreed that she was bound by agreement but argued that the adult children were not and, in an effort to avoid conflicting decisions, the entire case should remain in state court.  The 4th Appellate District, Division Three, held that "California’s wrongful death statute does not create a derivative action and therefore [the patient] lacked authority (express or implied) to bind Wife or Adult Children to the physician-patient arbitration agreement he signed simply to receive treatment for himself from [defendant]."   

Consequently, the Court affirmed the trial court’s decision not to enforce the ADR against the adult children.  The court also stated that the law would not require the wife to arbitrate her claims but since she stipulated at the trial court level that she was bound by the arbitration claim and failed to appeal the trial court’s order compelling her to arbitration, the court could not revisit that issue.  The court concluded by holding that the wife’s claim should proceed to Arbitration while the adult children will remain in the trial court.  The court added that it recognized that this could open the defendant to inconsistent results and added expenses, but this could be curred if the defendant waived his right to arbitrate the wife’s case.  The court added that this decision was defendant’s and not the court’s.


Author: Matt Steinberg from Kindred Healthcare