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Bair v. Manor Care of Elizabethtown, PA, LLC

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

January 15, 2015

M. SYLVIA BAIR, EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF MARTHA A. EDWARDS, DECEASED, Appellee
v.
MANOR CARE OF ELIZABETHTOWN, PA, LLC D/B/A MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES-ELIZABETHTOWN, MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES, INC., MANOR CARE, INC., HCR MANORCARE, INC., HCR HEALTHCARE, LLC, HCR II HEALTHCARE, LLC, HCR III HEALTHCARE, LLC, HCR IV HEALTHCARE, LLC, Appellants

Argued October 28, 2014

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Lancaster County, Civil Division, No(s): 12-17156. Before MADENSPACHER, J.

John M. Skrocki, West Conshohocken, for appellants.

Stephen Trzcinski, Philadelphi, for appellee.

BEFORE: BOWES, OTT, and STABILE, JJ.

OPINION

Page 95

BOWES, J.

Manor Care of Elizabethtown, PA, LLC d/b/a Manorcare Health Services -- Elizabethtown and other Manor Care and HCR defendants (collectively " Manor Care" ) appeal from the January 31, 2014 order overruling their preliminary objections pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1028(a)(6), and finding no agreement to arbitrate. After thorough review, we affirm.

M. Sylvia Bair, Executrix of the Estate of Martha A. Edwards (" Decedent" ), commenced this wrongful death and survival action against Manor Care alleging that neglect and abuse of her mother during her stay in its facility from April 15, 2011 through July 8, 2011, ultimately caused her death on October 5, 2011. Manor Care filed preliminary objections to the complaint seeking to have the case referred to arbitration pursuant to the terms of an arbitration agreement executed by Ms. Bair on behalf of Decedent upon admission to the facility. The trial court permitted discovery on the issue of the enforceability of the arbitration agreement.

Sylvia Bair was deposed and testified as follows. Ms. Bair arrived at Manor Care on April 15, 2011, and was presented with admissions paperwork for her mother, Martha Edwards. According to Ms. Bair, that person was not the Admissions Director Dale Young, but a female administrator. No one explained the nature of the arbitration agreement and Ms. Bair did not recall discussing the agreement with anyone at the facility. Bair Deposition, 6/3/13, at 33-34. Ms. Bair signed all the paperwork at that time. Id. at 35. Ms. Bair testified that she believed that the agreement had to be signed in order to facilitate her mother's admission. Id. at 48. She possessed a power of attorney from her mother dated May 5, 2000, and she signed the agreement on the line designated for the personal representative of the patient. No Manor Care representative completed or signed the form on behalf of the entity.

During her deposition, Ms. Bair was also shown an executed arbitration agreement dated June 24, 2009. She identified the signature of the patient's legal representative as her signature, although she had no recollection of signing the form, but confirmed that her mother had been a patient in Manor Care at that time. In contrast to the 2011 agreement, the blanks on the form for the date and the names of the parties were completed and it was signed by all parties.

Manor Care offered Dale Young, the facility's Admissions Director at the time

Page 96

of Decedent's admission, for deposition. While Mr. Young was the person who usually supervised the admissions process, he had no recollection of Ms. Bair and could not confirm that he presented the admission paperwork to her. His testimony was limited to what he routinely would advise new patients or their representatives about the arbitration ...


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