The TN Western Section of the TN Court of Appeals has just released its (infavorable) ruling on an arbitration enforceability dispute in a Memphis nursing home abuse and neglect case.

In Thornton v. Allenbrooke Rahabilitation Center, LLC, No. W2007-00950-COA-R3-CV (July 3, 2008) (Link below), the Court of Appels considered the nursing home’s appeal of an Order denying its Motion to Compel Arbitration.  James Russell was the Trial Judge and Peter Gee of the Cochran Firm and Brian Brooks (formerly of Wilkes and McHugh) represented the Plaintiff.

The Court of Appeals, in affirming the trial court’s determination that the ADR Agreement was unenforceable against the resident, held that the signor lacked "actual and/or apparent authority" to bind the resident, who was competent to sign the documents on her own behalf.  The Court also found that the resident lacked sufficient knowledge to "ratify" or assent to the execution of the ADR Agreement.

While the actual/apparent authority issues have been addressed by the Court of Appeals previously, this appears to be the first occasion on which the Tennessee appellate courts have rejected the ratification argument in the nursing home arbitration agreement context.

Author: F. Laurens(Larry) Brock from Chambliss Bahner & Stophel P.C.