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Nursing home’s arbitration demand denied

A Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court has rejected a nursing home’s motion to compel arbitration of a man’s complaint that his 84-year-old mother died after developing extensive bedsores while in the nursing home’s care.

The decision is the latest to test the limits of arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts.

When Bob Wiggins Jr. sued defendant Ruxton Health, operator of a Williamsburg nursing home, for negligence, Ruxton responded with a motion to dismiss because of an agreement to arbitrate. Ruxton cited an agreement signed by another son of decedent, who handled paperwork after Lorina Wiggins was admitted to Ruxton in 2007.

Virginia Beach lawyer John Zydron argued the plaintiff was not bound by nursing-home entry agreements signed by a family member who was not a guardian and had no power of attorney for the patient.

On Feb. 10, Judge Samuel T. Powell III entered an order denying the nursing home’s arbitration demand. In a one-paragraph order, Powell found that the contract document signed by the decedent’s son as personal representative did not legally bind his mother to the arbitration clause.
By Deborah Elkins

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