United States District Court, D. New Jersey
H. RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary
judgment on the issue of whether the parties should be
compelled to arbitrate their case of nursing home neglect.
Having considered the parties' submissions, the Court
decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons stated below,
this Court denies Defendants' motion for summary judgment
and grants Plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment.
Portfolio One, LLC d/b/a ManorCare Health Services-Washington
Township, HCR ManorCare, Inc., and ManorCare Health Services,
LLC filed a Complaint before this Court to compel arbitration
of a dispute with Defendants Gina M. Joie and Danielle N.
Griffith, executors of the estate of their father, John T.
Bombara, who had been a patient in Plaintiffs' facility
when he passed away on July 7, 2014.
February 24, 2013, Defendant Danielle N. Griffith signed a
document titled Voluntary Arbitration Agreement
(“Agreement”) on behalf of decedent John T.
Bombara with respect to decedent's admission to the
Plaintiffs' licensed skilled-nursing facility. At that
time, Griffith held a General Durable Power of Attorney
executed by her father in 2011, authorizing her to
“defend, settle, adjust, compound, submit to
arbitration and compromise all actions, suits, accounts,
reckonings, claims and demands whatsoever that are now, or
hereafter shall be, pending between [her father] and any
person, firm, association or corporation, in such manner and
in all respects as [Griffith] shall think fit[.]”
of the first page of the Agreement stated, in bold,
THE PARTIES ARE WAIVING THEIR RIGHT TO A TRIAL BEFORE A JUDGE
OR JURY OF ANY DISPUTE BETWEEN THEM. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
BEFORE SIGNING. THE PATIENT WILL RECEIVE SERVICES IN THIS
CENTER WHETHER OR NOT THIS AGREEMENT IS SIGNED. ARBITRATION
IS DESCRIBED IN THE VOLUNTARY ARBITRATION PROGRAM BROCHURE
COPY, ATTACHED AND MADE PART OF THIS AGREEMENT.
1 of the Agreement provides, in relevant part:
1. Agreement to Arbitrate
“Disputes”: All claims arising out of or
relating to this Agreement, the Admission Agreement or any
and all past or future admissions of the Patient at this
Center, or any sister Center operated by any subsidiary of
HCR ManorCare, Inc. (“Sister Center”), including
claims for malpractice, shall be submitted to arbitration.
3 of the Agreement states, in relevant part, that the
“Parties agree and intend that this Agreement, the
Admission Agreement, and the Patient's stays at the
Center substantially involve interstate commerce, and
stipulate that the Federal Arbitration Act
(“FAA”) and applicable federal case law apply to
this Agreement, [and] preempt any inconsistent State
law[.]” Paragraph 5 of the Agreement states:
5. Sole Decision Maker: Except as otherwise
provided in 6 below, the [Arbitration] Panel is empowered to,
and shall, resolve all disputes, including without
limitation, any disputes about the making, validity,
enforceability, scope, interpretation, voidability,
unconscionability, preemption, severability, and/or waiver of
this Agreement or the Admission Agreement, as well as resolve
the Parties' underlying disputes, as it is the
Parties' intent to avoid involving the court system.
8 of the Agreement allows the signatory to cancel the
Agreement within thirty (30) days of signing by sending
written notice via certified mail. Paragraph 8 also states
“[i]f not cancelled, this Agreement shall be binding on
the Patient for this and all of Patient's subsequent
admissions to the Center or any Sister Center without any
need for further renewal.”
preceding the signature block of the Agreement, the following
THE PARTIES CONFIRM THAT EACH OF THEM UNDERSTANDS THAT EACH
HAS WAIVED THE RIGHT TO A TRIAL BEFORE A JUDGE OR JURY AND
THAT EACH CONSENTS TO ALL OF THE TERMS OF THIS VOLUNTARY
AGREEMENT. PATIENT ACKNOWLEDGES THE RIGHT TO REVIEW ...