Manor Oaks, Inc. v. Campbell
Manor Oaks, Inc. v. Campbell, 276 So.3d 830 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019)
It is not uncommon for a health care surrogate or an agent under a power of attorney to sign a nursing home admission form for an elderly family member who is unable to do so for himself. These admission forms may contain more than just health care related or financial related provisions, so it is important to consider the nature and the scope of the family member's authority in determining whether they can bind someone to all of the terms of the agreement.
In this instance, the nursing home admission form contained a binding arbitration provision. The nursing home argued that because the form was signed by the decedent's sons as surrogates under a document entitled "Durable Power of Attorney Containing Health Care Surrogate Decisions," the decedent was bound by the arbitration clause. The Court found that an arbitration provision can be enforced if either: (1) the power of attorney makes a specific grant of such authority, or (2) the power of attorney umambiguously makes a broad, general grant of authority to the attorney-in-fact. To determine whether there was a broad enough grant of authority, the Court considered the scope of any "catch-all" provisions in the document, as well as the types of interests over which authority was granted.
Here, the document clearly pertained only to matters of health care decisions. It consistently used the term "health care surrogate" and cited to Chapter 765 governing Health Care Advance Directives. As a result of this narrow focus on health care matters, the Court held that the power of attorney did not allow the agent to bind the decedent to the arbitration clause in the admission documents.