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Manor Oaks, Inc. v. Campbell

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

July 31, 2019

MANOR OAKS, INC., d/b/a MANOR OAKS NURSING & REHABILITATION CENTER, Appellant,
v.
ROSEMARIE CAMPBELL, as Personal Representative of the Estate of STANLEY CHANSON, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal of a non-final order from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Carlos A. Rodriguez, Judge; L.T. Case No. CACE-17-016051 (14).

          Richard T. Woulfe, Mark A. Rutledge, and Scott C. Cochran of Billing, Cochran, Lyles, Mauro & Ramsey, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellant.

          Douglas F. Eaton of Eaton & Wolk, PL, Miami, for appellee.

          GROSS, J.

         The heart of this case is whether a document that designates a health care surrogate is broad enough to allow that surrogate to consent to an arbitration provision in a nursing home admission form. We hold that the narrow focus of the document is on the surrogates' power to make health care decisions, not business choices concerning dispute resolution, so we affirm the order of the trial court denying appellant's motion to compel arbitration.

         On May 1, 2009, Stanley Chanson signed a document, titled "Durable Power of Attorney Containing Health Care Surrogate Provisions" ("the Document"), in which he appointed his friend, Rosemarie Campbell, and Mark Chanson, his son, "as [his] attorney in fact to manage [his] affairs as . . . 'health care surrogate[s]'" (emphasis added).

         On December 9, 2016, at age eighty-six, Chanson was admitted to Manor Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center ("nursing home"). Campbell signed the nursing home's admission paperwork which included an "ARBITRATION PROVISION" that read:

ARBITRATION PROVISION: Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to the Agreement, or the breach thereof, including but not limited to claims under Chapters 400 and 415, FS; in excess of $5, 000.00 shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the Florida Arbitration Code found at Chapter 682, Florida Statutes, and judgement upon the award rendered by the arbitrator(s) may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof.

         Although the Document is entitled "Durable Power of Attorney Containing Health Care Surrogate Provisions," the authority that it delegates involves only matters pertaining to health care.

         The first section of the Document, "HEALTH CARE SURROGATE PROVISIONS PURSUANT TO F. S. SECTIONS 709.08 AND 765," reads:

In the event that I have been determined to be incapacitated to provide informed consent for medical treatment and surgical and diagnostic procedures, I wish to designate as my surrogate for health care decisions, the health care surrogate named herein.
This designation revokes any prior health surrogate designation which I may have made.
I fully understand that this designation will permit my healthcare surrogate to make health care decisions and to provide, withhold or withdraw consent on my behalf; to apply for public benefits to defray the cost of health care; and to ...

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