Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Arbitration Agreement within 11 page contract found enforcible due, in large part to signature

CORINE BROADNAX, Individually and as heir and on behalf of the Estate of Mary Alice Johnson v. QUINCE NURSING AND REHABILITATION CENTER, LLC, ET AL. (Tenn. Ct. App. April 22, 2009)

The parties to a nursing home Admission Agreement dispute the enforceability of its arbitration provision. The trial court refused to enforce the arbitration provision. The nursing home appealed. For the following reasons, we reverse the decision of the circuit court and remand for entry of an order compelling arbitration.

The entire text of this opinion can be found at the TBA website:

“Although we agree that mutual assent is essential to the formation of a contract, mutual assent is gathered from the language of the contract rather than the unexpressed or undisclosed intentions of the parties. 'The law conclusively presumes that the parties to a contract understood its obligations, and evidence is not admissible to show that their understanding was in fact otherwise.’” Id. (Case Citations Omitted)

“Based on the cases cited above, we find it inappropriate to relieve Ms. Broadnax from the operation of the Arbitration Agreement, due to her failure to read the document before signing it. In so ruling, we note that Ms. Broadnax had the ability to ask questions concerning the documents, was free to seek independent legal advice, and was given ample time to review the documents.” Id.

“Moreover, the Arbitration Agreement expressly stated that by signing such, Ms. Broadnax was 'giving up and waiving [her] constitutional right to have any claim decided in a court of law before a judge and a jury,' that execution was not a precondition to admission or the furnishing of services, and that it could be rescinded within thirty days. We further note that although the Arbitration Agreement was attached to a somewhat lengthy document, the Admission Agreement contained a table of contents, which should have drawn Ms. Broadnax’s attention to the inclusion of the Arbitration Agreement, which was a separate exhibit. Because Ms. Broadnax has failed to prove that Nursing Home either misrepresented the terms of the Arbitration Agreement or acted fraudulently in inducing her to sign such, we find that Ms. Broadnax’s signature evidences her assent to be bound by the Arbitration Agreement’s terms.” Id.

No comments:

Post a Comment