Ruiz v. Poldosky .App. 4/3 G040843 OC CA

For over 30 years, courts have been grappling with the following issue, appearing in various factual scenarios: when a person seeking medical care contracts with a health care provider to resolve all medical malpractice claims through arbitration, does that agreement apply to the resolution of wrongful death claims, when the claimants are not themselves signatory to the arbitration agreement? To resolve this issue, we must consider on the one hand the fact that wrongful death claims in the state are not derivative claims but are independent actions accruing to a decedent‘s heirs, as well as the fact that generally arbitration can be compelled only when a party has consented to the arbitration. On the other hand, we must address Code of Civil Procedure section 1295,1 which as explained below, contemplates that all medical malpractice claims, including wrongful death claims, may be subject to arbitration agreements between a health care provider and the patient.

1 All statutory references are to this code unless otherwise indicated. 2

We hold that all wrongful death claimants are bound by arbitration agreements entered into pursuant to section 1295, at least when, as here, the language of the agreement manifests an intent to bind these claimants. This holding carries out the intent of the Legislature that enacted section 1295 and related statutes.

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