Pennsylvania Record

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Court: Arbitration agreement not enforceable in wrongful death lawsuit, as deceased was not fit to sign

State Court

By Shanice Harris | Aug 21, 2019


HARRISBURG – An appeals court on Aug. 14 upheld a lower court's ruling against Chatham Acres Healthcare Group and several other health care groups in a woman's lawsuit over her husband's death. 

Sharon Pettica filed suit in Chester County Court of Common Pleas against Chatham Acres and other on behalf of Gene Lester Hedrick, who died in August 2015 following a fall in which he broke his right femur.

Hedrick was taken to Chester County Hospital for surgery, then transferred to Twin Pines Health Care Center. He died shortly after the transportation, and Pettica alleged the health care centers were responsible for his death because of improper treatment.

The centers denied the claims, saying Hedrick "had executed a voluntary and valid Arbitration Agreement upon his admission to Twin Pines,” according to court filings. 

Pettica argued that Hedrick was confused during his transfer to Twin Pines and was not properly informed of what was going on.

Based on Pettica’s testimony, the trial court determined that the defendant was not in the proper mindset to sign an agreement.

The defendants appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which upheld the trial court’s decision. Judge Alice Dubow wrote the opinion

The arbitration agreement was not enforceable, and there was no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s denial of the defendants' preliminary objections, the Superior Court ruled.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania case No. 2109 EDA 2018

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