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Mariner Healthcare, Inc. v. Green, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37479 (D. Miss. 2006)

On November 7, 2002, when resident was admitted to a nursing home, her daughter signed an agreement for arbitration. On August 23, 2004, a nursing home negligence case was filed in State court. Mariner then filed a federal action to compel arbitration. Fifth circuit precedent indicates the court should determine (1) whether there is a valid agreement to arbitrate between the parties; and (2) whether the dispute in question falls within the scope of that arbitration agreement. The burden of proving whether the arbitration agreement exists rests on the party seeking to invoke the agreement. Relying on Mariner Health Care, Inc. v. Estate of Rhodes, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42650 (D. Miss. 2005), the court first examined whether there was express or implied authority, demonstrated by documentation or evidence, that the resident gave her daughter authority to sign the agreement. Next, the court examined whether there was any apparent authority, which would be determined by acts of the principal and good faith reliance by the third party. Finally, the court looked for statutory authority that might allow a surrogate to make decisions for an incompetent or incapacitated patient. Mariner produced no evidence to satisfy any of these tests and, thus, failed to show that the resident’s daughter had authority to sign away the resident’s right to trial by jury.

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