United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
PERSONACARE OF READING, INC., d/b/a KINDRED TRANSITIONAL CARE AND REHABILITATION - WYOMISSING, Plaintiff,
KATHRYN M. LENGEL and THERESA A. QUITINSKY, and as co-Executrixes of the Estate of MARY KATHRYN QUITINSKY, Defendants.
the Court is the Motion to Compel of Plaintiff, Personacare
of Reading, Inc., d/b/a Kindred Transitional Care and
Rehabilitation-Wyomissing (“Plaintiff”), which
Defendants, Kathryn M. Lengel and Theresa A. Quitinsky, and
as co-Executrixes of the Estate of Mary Kathryn Quitinsky
(“Defendants”) have opposed. After a review of
the briefs and accompanying exhibits of all parties, and for
the reasons discussed below, I will grant Plaintiff's
Motion to Compel Arbitration, order the survival claims in
the state court matter to proceed to arbitration, and stay
the pending state court proceedings.
mother, the deceased Mary Kathryn Quitinsky, was a resident
of Plaintiff's skilled nursing facility located in
Reading, Pennsylvania. (See Complaint.) Defendants
in this matter filed a claim for nursing home negligence
against Plaintiff in the Court of Common Pleas of Berks
County. Plaintiff then instituted the present action, seeking
to have Defendants' state court action compelled to
arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement signed as
part of Ms. Quitinsky's admission to Plaintiff's
facility. (Docket No. 2, Exh. K.) Defendants opposed this
motion, claiming that the ADR agreement cannot be enforced as
written, is based upon fraud, is unconscionable and is
Standard of review
motion to compel arbitration may be resolved at the pleadings
stage without the benefit of any discovery if “it is
apparent, based on ‘the face of [the petition], and
documents relied upon in the [petition], ' that certain
of a party's claims ‘are subject to an enforceable
arbitration clause.' . . .” Guidotti v. Legal
Helpers Debt Resolution, LLC, 716 F.3d 764, 776 (3d Cir.
2013) (citing Somerset Consulting, LLC v. United Capital
Lenders, LLC, 832 F.Supp.2d 474, 482 (E.D. Pa. 2011)).
If a “complaint and its supporting documents are
unclear regarding the agreement to arbitrate, ” a
motion to compel should be denied without prejudice to allow
limited discovery on the issue of arbitrability. Id.
If the agreement to arbitrate is facially valid, an opposing
party must present “reliable evidence . . . ‘that
it did not intend to be bound' by the arbitration
agreement. . . ” Id. at 774 (quoting
Par-Knit Mills Inc. v. Stockbridge Fabrics Co.,
Ltd., 636 F.2d 51, 55 (3d Cir. 1980)). If a motion to
compel is denied without prejudice and discovery is
permitted, a party may renew the motion after discovery, and
the court will review it under a summary judgment standard.
Id. at 776.
the validity of an ADR agreement requires two steps. First, a
court must determine whether a valid agreement to arbitrate
exists; if the ADR agreement is enforceable, courts then
decide whether the issues contained in the complaint fall
within the scope of the agreement. Trippe Mfg. Co. v.
Niles Audio Corp., 401 F.3d 529, 532 (3d Cir. 2005).
agreement in question was signed by Theresa Quitinsky on
behalf of her mother as her mother's “Legal
Representative.” (See Exh. K, p. 4.) The
agreement states that it is entered into between
“Kindred Nursing Centers East, LLC d/b/a 1237-Kindred
Transitional Care and Rehabilitation - Wyomissing, a nursing
home in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (hereinafter
referred to as the “Facility”) and M. Kathryn
Quitinsky, a Resident at the Facility (hereinafter referred
to as the “Resident.”) The term Facility as used
in this Agreement shall refer to the nursing home, its
employees, agents, officers, directors, affiliates and any
parent or subsidiary of the Facility.” (See Exh. K, p.
1.) The ADR agreement contains the following language:
Voluntary Agreement to Participate in ADR. The Parties agree
that any disputes covered by this Agreement (“Covered
Disputes”) that may arise between the Parties shall be
resolved exclusively by an Alternative Dispute Resolution
process that shall include mediation and, where mediation is
not successful, binding arbitration. The relief available to
the Parties under this Agreement shall not exceed that which
otherwise would be available to them in a court action based
on the same facts and legal theories under applicable
federal, state or local law.
THE PARTIES UNDERSTAND, ACKNOWLEDGE, AND AGREE THAT BY
ENTERING INTO THIS AGREEMENT THEY ARE GIVING UP THEIR
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HAVE THEIR DISPUTES DECIDED BY A
COURT OF LAW OR TO APPEAL ANY DECISION OR AWARD OF DAMAGES
RESULTING FROM THE ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS
EXCEPT AS PROVIDED HEREIN.
(See Exh. K, p. 1) (emphasis in original). Regarding
“Covered Disputes, ” the Agreement further
This Agreement applies to any and all disputes arising out of
or in any way relating to this Agreement or to the
Resident's stay at the Facility that would constitute a
legally cognizable cause of action in a court of law sitting
in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Covered disputes
include, but are not limited to all claims in law or equity
arising from one Party's failure to satisfy a financial
obligation to the other Party; a violation of the right
claimed to exist under federal, stae, or local law or
contractual agreement between the Parties; tort; breach of
contract; fraud; misrepresentation; negligence; gross