STAP, INC., D/B/A ST. ANDREWS PLACE; KILGORE CONSULTING GROUP, INC.; AND JOSHUA KILGORE APPELLANTS
LAGATHA SUTTERFIELD, AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF JAMES SUTTERFIELD, AND ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF JAMES SUTTERFIELD APPELLEE
FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23CV-18-1270]
HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.,
by: Benjamin D. Jackson and Lauren S. Grinder, for
Reddick Moss, PLLC, by: Matthew D. Swindle and Robert W.
Francis, for appellee.
MEREDITH B. SWITZER, JUDGE
Sutterfield, as special administrator of her husband's
estate and on behalf of his wrongful-death beneficiaries,
filed a lawsuit against STAP, Inc., d/b/a St. Andrews Place;
Kilgore Consulting Group, Inc.; and Joshua Kilgore ("St.
Andrews Place"). She asserted claims of negligence,
medical malpractice, breach of the admission agreement, and
deceptive trade practices. St. Andrews Place filed a motion
to compel arbitration and to dismiss the case. The motion was
denied, and this appeal followed. St. Andrews Place contends
that (1) the arbitration agreement is a valid and enforceable
contract under Arkansas law and (2) the circuit court erred
in relying on Pine Hills Health & Rehabilitation, LLC
v. Matthews, 2014 Ark. 109, 431 S.W.3d 910, and
Regional Care of Jacksonville, LLC v. Henry, 2014
Ark. 361, 444 S.W.3d 356. Our jurisdiction is pursuant to
Rule 2(a) of the Arkansas Rules of Appellate Procedure-Civil.
January 18, 2018, James Sutterfield was admitted to St.
Andrews Place, a long-term care facility. His wife, LaGatha
Sutterfield, signed the admission agreement on his behalf.
"T[racy] Moore" signed the admission agreement on
behalf of St. Andrews Place. On the same date, LaGatha also
signed the arbitration agreement, albeit on the wrong line,
but no one from St. Andrews Place signed it. James died on
May 28, 2018. On August 24, 2018, LaGatha filed the
underlying action in circuit court, asserting claims of
negligence, medical malpractice, breach of the admission
agreement, and deceptive trade practices.
October 18, 2018, the defendants filed a motion to compel
arbitration and dismiss the action. At the hearing on the
motion, only counsels' arguments were heard, and no
witnesses were presented. The circuit court thereafter
entered its letter opinion on January 18, 2019. The court
ruled that the arbitration agreement was not enforceable and
denied the motion to compel and dismiss. The order denying
the motion was filed on January 22, and this appeal followed.
admission agreement provides in pertinent part, under the
F. Modifications. No modification of the terms and conditions
of this Agreement shall be valid unless in writing and signed
by both parties to this Agreement.
G. Entire Understanding. This Agreement including its
Attachments and Policies, Procedures, and Statements of
Understanding of the Facility received and acknowledged by
the Resident/Responsible Party at any time on or after the
date of this Agreement all of which are incorporated by
reference herein, contains the entire agreement between the
parties, and it supersedes all prior agreements, arrangements
or oral representations as to all matters relating to the
Resident and his or her care at the Nursing Facility.
Upon execution, the Arbitration Agreement becomes an
addendum to and a part of this Agreement. This Agreement
shall remain in full force and effect for all the
Resident's future stays in the Facility, regardless of
transfers to hospitals, other institutions or home, until and
unless superseded by any new Agreements.
arbitration agreement provides in pertinent part:
This Arbitration Agreement is executed
by___(Resident), x LaGathaSutterfield
(Resident's Agent/Representative/Responsible Party
("Responsible Party")) and St. Andrews Place (the
"Facility") in conjunction with the Admission
Agreement and ...