Co-Guardian Had Authority to Bind Ward to Arbitration Provision


Birmingham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC, et al. v. Davis, etc., [Ms. SC-2023-0433, Mar. 22, 2024] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2024). The Court (Mitchell, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Bryan, and Mendheim, JJ., concur) reverses the Jefferson Circuit Court’s order denying defendants’ motion to compel arbitration based on a provision in a nursing home admission contract.

The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration because the contract was signed by only one of the mentally-incompetent resident’s two court-appointed guardians. In reversing, the Court notes that the Guardianship Act provides at § 26-2A-78(e), Ala. Code 1975, that limitations on the guardian’s authority “must be endorsed on the guardian’s letters,” and that “[t]he inability to act without the approval of another is an obvious ‘limitation’ on the powers of guardianship – yet no such limitation appears in the probate court’s order.” Ms. *9. The Court concludes “[t]he Alabama Legislature has not adopted the 2017 version of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act, nor has it enacted any other unanimity requirement for co-guardians. If anything, the fact that new model legislation and statutes in other jurisdictions expressly impose a unanimity requirement for co-guardians makes it even more conspicuous that the Alabama Legislature has chosen not to do so.” Ms. *13.

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