March 3, 2018
In March 2015, 87-year-old Antonio Avila of Southern California was suffering from a number of ailments, including sepsis and chronic renal failure. Hoping to get his ill father the treatment he so desperately needed, Antonio’s son Alex—whom Antonio had named his agent via a 2007 power of attorney agreement—had his father transferred to a long-term acute care facility, Kindred Hospital.
Five days after being admitted, Antonio Avila was dead. A feeding tube, improperly installed, had begun to infuse into his throat and esophagus, resulting in aspiration and ultimately cardiopulmonary arrest. The very people with whom Alex Avila had entrusted his father’s health had, by their neglect, killed him.
So contends Alex Avila in a suit originally brought in March 2016. On February 26, a California court of appeals issued a ruling that represents an important step forward in Alex Avila’s effort to hold Kindred Hospital’s operator, Southern California Specialty Care, accountable for its role in his father’s premature death. Affirming a lower court decision, a three-court panel found that Alex Avila was not bound to arbitration in bringing his claims of negligence and willful misconduct over his father’s death.
One day after Antonio Avila had been admitted into Kindred Hospital, Alex was asked to sign an arbitration agreement on his father’s behalf. However, the appellate panel confirmed, this did not mean that in doing so Alex had subjected himself to the same binding arbitration agreement as to his own claims.
Further, the court of appeals rejected defendant Southern California Specialty Care’s contention that arbitration was required under California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, noting that Alex Avila had sued under a different statute that contained no such arbitration requirement.
The case is one example of how courts are beginning to push back against the onslaught of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) agreements being hoisted upon oftentimes unwitting consumers by today’s large corporations. Commented the panel:
“While the law favors arbitration as an expeditious and cost-effective way to resolve disputes, consent of the parties is required.”
Have you or a loved one suffered injury as a result of negligence or neglect in a nursing home or long-term medical-care facility? The expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are standing by now for a free consultation. Contact us today!