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Macpherson v. Magee Memorial Hospital for Convalescence

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 10, 2014

PATRICK J. MACPHERSON, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF RICHARD MACPHERSON, DECEASED
v.
THE MAGEE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOR CONVALESCENCE d/b/a MAGEE REHABILITATION HOSPITAL, JEFFERSON HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., TJUH SYSTEM, MANOR CARE OF YEADON PA, LLC, d/b/a MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES-YEADON, HCR MANOR CARE, INC., MANORCARE, INC., HCR HEALTHCARE, LLC, HCR II HEALTHCARE, LLC, HCR III HEALTHCARE, LLC APPEAL OF: MANOR CARE OF YEADON PA, LLC, d/b/a MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES-YEADON, HCR MANOR CARE, INC., MANORCARE, INC., HCR HEALTHCARE, LLC, HCR II HEALTHCARE, LLC, AND HCR III HEALTHCARE, LLC

Appeal from the Order Entered November 20, 2012, In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, at No. 191 Oct. Term 2011.

Joseph D. Seletyn, Esq.

BEFORE: GANTMAN, SHOGAN and PLATT [*] JJ.

OPINION

SHOGAN, J.

Appellants, Manor Care of Yeadon PA, LLC, d/b/a ManorCare Health Services-Yeadon ("Manor Care"), et al., appeal from the trial court's order overruling their preliminary objections to the trial court's jurisdiction and venue in this action filed by Appellee, Patrick J. MacPherson ("MacPherson"), as executor of the estate of his brother, Richard MacPherson ("Decedent"). The preliminary objections were based on the existence of an arbitration agreement between Manor Care and Decedent. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand this case for referral to arbitration.

On August 20, 2009, Decedent, who was fifty-four years old and had no history of dementia or mental illness, was admitted to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital ("Magee").[1] On September 15, 2009, Decedent was admitted to Manor Care, a nursing home facility.[2] On October 6, 2009, Decedent and a Manor Care representative executed an arbitration agreement ("Agreement"), which provided that any dispute between the parties would be submitted to binding arbitration. Decedent resided at Manor Care until his death on February 1, 2010. On January 27, 2012, MacPherson filed a complaint advancing claims of negligence, negligence per se, corporate negligence, wrongful death and survivorship in connection with Decedent's stays at Magee and Manor Care. On March 30, 2012, Manor Care filed preliminary objections seeking transfer of the case to arbitration pursuant to the Agreement. Following discovery and briefing by the parties, the trial court entered an order on November 20, 2012, overruling Manor Care's preliminary objections. This timely appeal followed.[3]

Manor Care raises four issues on appeal, all of which challenge the trial court's refusal to transfer this matter to arbitration, [4] as follows:

I. Whether the Trial Court erred in overruling [Manor Care's] Preliminary Objections seeking to compel arbitration without applying or acknowledging the liberal standards favoring arbitration of disputes contained in the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") or Pennsylvania law?
II. Whether the Trial Court erred in finding that the Decedent, Richard MacPherson, lacked capacity to execute the Arbitration Agreement?
III. Whether the Trial Court erred in finding that the Arbitration Agreement at issue in this case was unenforceable due to both procedural and substantive unconscionability?
IV. Whether the Trial Court erred in finding that the Arbitration Agreement was unenforceable due to the failure of a term in the agreement designating the National Arbitration Forum ("NAF") to administrate the arbitration?

(Manor Care's Brief at 5).

The Agreement at issue reads as follows:

VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT: If you do not accept this Agreement, the Patient will still be allowed to live in, and ...

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