Son Not Bound by Arbitration Agreement Signed to Admit Father to Rehabilitation Facility

Elder Law Answers case summary.The Arkansas Court of Appeals holds that the circuit court correctly declined to enforce an arbitration agreement signed by an adult child who was not the agent or guardian of his father. In Faulker-Progressive Eldercare Services v. Stephen Carson (Ark. Ct. App., No. CV-22-191, March 15, 2023).

When Mr. Robert Carson entered a Faulkner-Progressive Eldercare Services, Inc. rehabilitation center known as Conway Healthcare, his son Mr. Stephen Carson accompanied him. Although Mr. Stephen Carson was neither his father’s agent under a power of attorney nor his guardian, he filled out the paperwork and provided the signatures required to admit his father. Conway Healthcare listed Mr. Stephen Carson as a “responsible party,” not an agent or guardian, and the agreements stated they were between the facility and Mr. Robert Carson.

The admission agreement reflected that Mr. Robert Carson had neither a health care agent nor a guardian. Mr. Stephen Carson also signed the arbitration agreement.

Incorporated into the admission agreement was an arbitration agreement, which Mr. Stephen Carson signed as a responsible party. He marked that he was an adult child, again, not an agent or guardian.

After his father passed away, Mr. Stephen Carson filed a wrongful death action against the facility. Conway Healthcare sought to enforce the arbitration agreement. The circuit court denied the facility’s motion to compel arbitration, and the facility appealed.

There is no valid arbitration agreement between Mr. Stephen Carson and Conway Healthcare. The facility failed to show that Mr. Stephen Carson executed the documents in his individual capacity. He was the “resident’s representative,” not a party to the contract. No evidence suggests that his father authorized him to act on his behalf. The facility failed to establish that Mr. Stephen Carson intended to sign in his individual capacity.

As no valid agreement exists between the son and the facility or the father and the facility, the circuit court properly declined to enforce arbitration.

Read the full opinion.