ARBITRATION-NURSING HOME-AGENCY OR AUTHORITY TO SIGN

April 30th, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Arbitration

McIlwain v. Saber Healthcare Grp., Inc., LLC. 2019 Pa. Super. (April 22, 2019) Colins, J.-The UAGPPJA provides two ways that an out-of-state guardianship/conservatorship can be recognized in Pennsylvania. Section 5922 provides for a transfer of the jurisdiction of the guardianship from another state into Pennsylvania. Section 5931 provides for an out-of-state guardian/conservator to register its guardianship/conservatorship order in Pennsylvania. “The FAA… does not require parties to arbitration when they have not agreed to do so.” E.C.O.C. v. Waffle House, Inc., 534 U.S. 279, 293, 122 S. Ct. 754, 151 L. Ed. 2d 755 (2002) (citation omitted). “Despite national and state policies favoring arbitration, a party cannot be compelled to arbitrate in the absence of a valid agreement to do so under either Pennsylvania law or the [FAA].” Washburn v. Northern Health Facilities, Inc., 2015 Pa. Super. 168, 121 A.3d 1008, 1015-6 (Pa. Super. 2015) (citation omitted). “The [FAA] requires courts to place arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts.” Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark, 137 S. Ct. 1421, 1424, 197 L. Ed. 2d 806 (2017) (citation omitted). “[T]he existence of an arbitration does not require the rubber stamping of all disputes as subject to arbitration.” Pisano v. Extendicare Homes, Inc., 2013 Pa. Super. 232, 77 A.3d 651, 661 (Pa. Super. 2013) (citation omitted). “This is especially true where holding otherwise would operate against principles of Pennsylvania contract law and the FAA.” Id. We find the trial court erred as a matter of law in determining that Mcllwain had the authority to sign the arbitration agreement on behalf of Franks. Absent an agency relationship, we hold that Mcllwain did not have authority to sign the arbitration agreement on behalf of Franks. We reverse the trial court’s order bifurcating the survival claims, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. The survival claims are to proceed in the trial court concurrent with the wrongful death and negligence claims.