Florida Supreme Court Won’t Reconsider Nursing Home Case

Nov 9, 2016

A divided Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would not reconsider a decision rejecting arbitration in a lawsuit about injuries suffered by a nursing-home resident.

Appeals courts across the state in recent years have dealt with questions about the validity of arbitration agreements that nursing-home residents or family members have signed at the time of admission. The agreements are designed to settle legal disputes in arbitration, rather than going to court and potentially being decided by juries.

The Supreme Court in September said a father, Juan Mendez Sr., could not be bound by an arbitration requirement that his son signed without the elder Mendez's agreement. The elder Mendez suffered an infection in 2011 that led to the removal of his left eye, prompting a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County circuit court against Hampton Court Nursing Center. The nursing home argued the case should be resolved in arbitration, but the Supreme Court disagreed.

The elder Mendez died in 2013.

Attorneys for the nursing home filed a motion last month for a rehearing in the case, pointing to potentially far-reaching implications of the Supreme Court's decision. "(The) standard adopted by the majority in this case is likely to have unexpected consequences and an impact that reaches far beyond long term care litigation to any area of the law where arbitration and third party beneficiary law intersect," the motion for rehearing said. "Put another way, the decision, as currently written, could effectively quash numerous decisions in addition to those directly referenced in the opinion (in countless different industries)."

But justices, by the same 5-2 majority as in the September decision, rejected the motion. The majority was made up of Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry. Dissenting were justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston.