In the Courts: PA High Court Strictly Construes Terms of Arbitration Agreement

February 1, 2013 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Finding that a wrongful-death action did not arise from a dispute involving a resident agreement between a personal care facility and a resident, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has declined to compel arbitration between the parties. The resident and plaintiff had signed the resident agreement, which contained an arbitration clause stating in relevant part that "any dispute controversy arising out of or in connection with under or pursuant to this agreement shall be determined by arbitration."

The facility transported the resident to an appointment with her treating physician. No footrests were equipped at the time. The facility had obtained a safety harness to use while transporting the resident, but the transporter did not use the harness or any similar device on this occasion. After the examination, the transporter told the resident to lift her feet as she pushed the resident through the medical office, although the facility knew that the resident could not lift her feet while being transported in a wheelchair. Overhearing this, a physician assistant who worked at the office told the transporter to be careful, as it was apparent that the resident was not capable of lifting her feet. The resident's feet became entangled below the wheelchair, causing her to fall out of it; she landed on her head and face. She suffered severe injuries that required hospitalization and...

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