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Northport Health Services of Arkansas, LLC v. Posey

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

June 15, 2018

NORTHPORT HEALTH SERVICES OF ARKANSAS, LLC, d/b/a Covington Court Health and Rehabilitation Center; et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
MARK WESLEY POSEY, Individually and as Special Administrator of the Estate of Clyde Wesley Posey, and on Behalf of the Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Clyde Wesley Posey DEFENDANT

          OPINION AND ORDER

          P.K. HOLMES, III, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 37), brief in support of their motion (Doc. 38), and statement of facts in support of their motion (Doc. 39). Defendant filed a response in opposition and counter-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 40), a brief in support (Doc. 41), and a response to Plaintiffs' statement of facts (Doc. 42). Plaintiffs filed a reply (Doc. 44) in support of their motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs also filed a response (Doc. 45) to Defendant's counter-motion for summary judgment and a brief in support (Doc. 46). Defendant filed a reply (Doc. 47) in support of his counter-motion for summary judgment.

         For the reasons stated herein, the Court will GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 37) and DENY Defendant's counter-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 40).

         I. Background

         Clyde Wesley Posey (“Clyde”) was admitted to Northport Health Services of Arkansas, LLC d//b/a Covington Court Health and Rehabilitation Center (“Covington Court”) on September 2, 2004. In connection with his admission, Clyde and his son, Matt Posey (“Matt”), signed an admission agreement, which included an arbitration agreement. (Doc. 1-2).

         Section 8 of the admission agreement, which contains the arbitration agreement, states that “THE PARTIES ACKNOWLEDGE THAT BY ENTERING INTO THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT, THEY ARE GIVING UP THEIR RIGHT TO HAVE ANY SUCH DISPUTE DECIDED IN A COURT OF LAW BEFORE A JUDGE OR JURY, AND INSTEAD ARE ACCEPTING THE USE OF ARBITRATION.”

         Clyde signed the admission agreement as the “Resident” and Matt signed the agreement as Clyde's “Responsible Party.” The admission agreement defines Responsible Party, in part, as a person “who agrees to assist [Covington Court] in providing for [the Resident's] health, care, and maintenance.” Further, Section 2 of the admission agreement states that “[t]he Responsible Party represents to the Facility that he or she manages, uses, directs or controls funds or assets which may be used to pay for Resident's Facility charges and/or that he or she tends to make decisions for or otherwise act on behalf of Resident.”

         Additionally, Appendix D of the admission agreement, an arbitration consent form, reiterates that the signatories consent to the arbitration agreement contained in Section 8. Clyde signed Appendix D as the Resident and Matt signed Appendix D as Clyde's Responsible Party.

         After Clyde's death, Mark Wesley Posey (“Mark”), acting as special administrator of Clyde's estate, filed suit against Plaintiffs in the Circuit Court of Sebastian County, Arkansas, alleging negligence and other claims arising from Clyde's stay at Covington Court. Plaintiffs filed this suit seeking to compel arbitration of Defendant's state court claims and to enjoin state court proceedings on Defendant's claims.

         II. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

         When a party moves for summary judgment, it must establish both the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Nat'l Bank of Commerce of El Dorado, Ark. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 606 (8th Cir. 1999). In order for there to be a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party must produce evidence “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Allison v. Flexway Trucking, Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66-67 (8th Cir. 1994) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Only facts “that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law” need be considered. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “[T]he non-movant must make a sufficient showing on every essential element of its claim on which it bears the burden of proof.” P.H. v. Sch. Dist. of Kan. City, Mo., 265 F.3d 653, 658 (8th Cir. 2001). Facts asserted by the nonmoving party “must be properly supported by the record, ” in which case those “facts and the inferences to be drawn from them [are viewed] in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id. at 656-57.

         III. Analysis

         The only issue before the Court on summary judgment is whether the arbitration agreement included in the admission agreement is valid and enforceable.

         Whether a valid arbitration agreement has been entered into is a question of law, controlled by the applicable state contract law. Davidson v. Cingular Wireless LLC, 2007 WL 896349 at *2 (E.D. Ark. Mar. 23, 2007). Arkansas law provides that the essential elements of a contract are: (1) competent parties; (2) ...


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