Corine Broadnax v. Quince Nursing and

Rehabilitation
Center
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On August 11, 2009, the Tennessee Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Shelby County Circuit Court denying the nursing home’s motion to compel arbitration and remanded the case to the trial court for entry of an order compelling the resident’s estate to arbitrate her disputes with the Quince Nursing Home Rehabilitation Center. The arbitration agreement consisted of two pages and was included within a nineteen page admission agreement. The parties did not dispute that the resident’s representative signed the arbitration agreement or that she was legally authorized to do so.

 

On appeal, the resident’s estate argued that it was not required to arbitrate its disputes with the nursing home because the resident’s attorney-in-fact, via durable power of attorney for healthcare, did not “know” that she was signing an arbitration agreement when executing renewal paperwork. The Court of Appeals held that courts must use an “objective standard based on the manifestations of the parties” when determining whether the parties had a “meeting of the minds,” and that the trial court erred by applying a subjective standard.

 

The Court of Appeals also held that the arbitration agreement was not a “contract of adhesion,” and that, therefore, the nursing home was not required to prove that the parties “actually bargained over the agreement or that it was a reasonable term” under the circumstances. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals refused to relieve the resident from performance under the arbitration agreement due to her failure to read the document.   

 

Author: Larry Brock/Ryan Malone from Chambliss Bahner & Stophel

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