BROWARD COUNTY — The 4th District Court of Appeal has remanded a case in which a rehab center was seeking to compel arbitration, according to the July 5 opinion.
Fi-Pompano Rehab LLC filed an appeal in a case involving Marjorie Irving, the representative for the estate of Mercedes Nesbeth, after a trial court denied its request to require arbitration. The appeals court reversed the trial court’s order because it said the arbitration was not significant.
Nesbeth checked into the rehab center and designated her daughter Irving as the power of attorney about a month later, according to background information in the ruling. Irving signed a resident admission agreement on behalf of Nesbeth, which included an allowance of arbitration.
The voluntary section of the agreement states arbitration has to follow the regulations of the Federal Arbitration Code and both sides can have an attorney present at their own expense. The resident and employee who sign this section can retain a lawyer and the section of the admission agreement can be removed with written notice submitted to the treatment center no more than three days after being signed.
Nesbeth died while at Pompano Rehab, according to court records. Irving sued the center for damages, claiming the facility violated Florida regulations while Nesbeth was in its care. The center responded with a motion to require arbitration. Irving said the arbitration could not be enforced because Nesbeth had already been admitted when it was signed.
The trial court agreed and dismissed Pompano Rehab’s motion for an enforced arbitration. The facility then filed an appeal. Irving said in the appeal that the arbitration agreement is “substantively unconscionable” as it conflicts with Chapter 400 of the Florida statutes that says both parties have to pay for the arbitrator.
The appeals court decided the agreement is “not substantively unconscionable,” and that it does not conflict with public policy by requiring both parties pay. The appeals court decided the trial court erred in denying the rehab center’s request for an arbitration. It reversed and remanded the case to the trial court to order arbitration.