RESPONDENT: Janis E. Clark, et al.
LOCATION: Fountain Circle Care and Rehabilitation Center
DOCKET NO.: 16-32
LOWER COURT: Kentucky Supreme Court
CITATION: US ()
GRANTED: Oct 28, 2016
Facts of the case
Olive Clark and Joe Wellner were both residents at the Fountain Circle Care and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home operated by Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership (Kindred Nursing) in Winchester, Kentucky. Prior to their admission to the facility, each had designated their relatives as attorneys-in-fact, which gave the relatives broad authority to enter into transactions and agreements on their behalf. Their relatives, Janis E. Clark and Beverly Wellner, used their status as attorneys-in-fact to sign an alternative dispute resolution agreements with the facility that stipulated that any disputes arising from the Olive’s and Joe’s stays at the facility would be resolved through arbitration.
Olive and Joe both passed away in the spring of 2009, and Janis and Beverly each filed lawsuits against Kindred Nursing for personal injury and wrongful death on their behalf. Kindred Nursing moved to compel arbitration based on the agreements that Janis and Beverly had signed. The state trial court initially dismissed both judicial actions in favor of arbitration, but later reversed in accordance with the precedent the Supreme Court of Kentucky established in Ping v. Beverly Enterprises, Inc. In that case, the Supreme Court of Kentucky held that the power of attorney that authorized an attorney-in-fact to manage the principal’s “financial affairs” and “health-care decisions” did not include the authority to bind the principal to an optional arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed the lower court’s decision.
Does the Federal Arbitration Act preempt Kentucky state-law precedent that requires a power of attorney agreement to expressly grant an attorney-in-fact the power to bind her principal to an arbitration agreement?