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ARBITRATION - KINDRED NURSING CENTERS EAST, LLC V. JONES

Kindred Nursing Centers East, LLC v. Jones, [Ms. 1140871, Feb. 26, 2016] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2016). A family member (with no power of attorney) signing papers to admit a relative to a nursing home does not bind the relative to arbitration if the resident is “substantially mentally impaired.” Here, Ms. Jones had knee-replacement surgery and her daughter signed her papers for admission to a nursing home. Opposing the nursing homes’s motion to compel arbitration, Ms. Jones submitted the affidavit of her daughter who stated that Jones was “mentally incompetent and physically incapacitated at the time ... [and] was under the influence of heavy pain medication.” Reviewing cases addressing arbitration agreements in the nursing-home-admission context, the Court reverses the denial of the motion to compel arbitration. “[E]ven if Jones’s pain medication in the hospital caused some level of mental incompetence, there is simply no evidence indicating that any such mental incompetence continued during her stay at the facility or ... rose to the level of the mental incompetence” found in other cases to support denial of arbitration motions. Even if Jones was not aware of her daughter’s having signed the arbitration agreement, she passively ratified it. Chief Justice Moore and Justice Murdock dissented from the holding of apparent authority; Chief Justice Moore also says that if Ms. Jones was competent, she should have signed the papers.

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