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Schultz v. GGNSC St. Paul Lake Ridge LLC

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 27, 2018

ROBERT SCHULTZ, Trustee for the Next of Kin of Rosemary Schultz, Decedent, Plaintiff,
v.
GGNSC ST. PAUL LAKE RIDGE LLC, JOHN DOES, and JANE DOE, Defendants.

          Richard E. Student, MESHBESHER & ASSOCIATES, P.A., for plaintiff.

          Alana K. Bassin and Rachelle A. Velgersdyk, BOWMAN & BROOKE LLP, for defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND STAY PROCEEDINGS

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         GGNSC St. Paul Lake Ridge LLC (“Lake Ridge”), brought this Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay Proceedings in a wrongful death action brought by Robert Schultz (“Plaintiff”), trustee for the next of kin of Rosemary Schultz, decedent. Lake Ridge alleges that Plaintiff's wrongful death action is subject to arbitration pursuant to a mutual, binding Arbitration Agreement signed by the decedent's power of attorney when the decedent was admitted to Lake Ridge's nursing home facility. Because the Court will find that Plaintiff's claim is derivative and therefore bound by the Arbitration Agreement, the Court will grant Lake Ridge's Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay Proceedings.

         BACKGROUND

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On July 19, 2007, Jeanne Kassim admitted her mother, Rosemary Schultz, to Lake Ridge, a skilled nursing facility in Roseville, Minnesota. (Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of its Mot. to Compel Arb. at 1-2, July 14, 2017, Docket No. 6.) When she admitted her mother, Kassim held a limited power of attorney and signed two documents on behalf of her mother: (1) the Admission Agreement and (2) the Resident and Facility Arbitration Agreement (“the Arbitration Agreement”). (Id. at 2.)

         A. The Arbitration Agreement

         The Arbitration Agreement is titled “RESIDENT AND FACILITY ARBITRATION AGREEMENT (NOT A CONDITION OF ADMISSION - READ CAREFULLY).” (Aff. of Jennifer L. Bullard ¶ 3, Ex. B (“Arbitration Agreement”), July 14, 2017, Docket No. 7 (emphasis in original).) It reads in part:

The parties to this Arbitration Agreement acknowledge and agree that upon execution, this Arbitration Agreement becomes part of the Admission Agreement, and that the Admission Agreement evidences a transaction involving interstate commerce governed by the Federal Arbitration Act. It is understood and agreed by Facility and Resident that any and all claims, disputes, and controversies (hereafter collectively referred to as a “claim” or collectively as “claims”) arising out of, or in connection with, or relating in any way to the Admission Agreement or any service or health care provided by the Facility to the Resident shall be resolved exclusively by binding arbitration to be conducted at a place agreed upon by the Parties, or in the absence of such an agreement, at the Facility, in accordance with the National Arbitration Forum Code of Procedure, which is hereby incorporated into this Agreement\1, and not by a lawsuit or resort to court process. This agreement shall be governed by and interpreted under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. Sections 1-16.

(Id.) The Arbitration Agreement purports to cover claims of “negligence, gross negligence, malpractice, or claims based on any departure from accepted medical or health care or safety standards, as well as any and all claims for equitable relief or claims based on . . . negligence.” (Id.) It purports to bind not only the parties but also “their successors, and assigns, . . . and all persons whose claim is derived through or on behalf of the Resident, including any parent, spouse, sibling, child, guardian, executor, legal representative, administrator, or heir of the Resident.” (Id.) It also purports to “survive the lives or existence of the parties hereto.” (Id.)

         The Arbitration Agreement specifically states that the parties “ARE GIVING UP AND WAIVING THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HAVE ANY CLAIM DECIDED IN A COURT OF LAW BEFORE A JUDGE AND A JURY, AS WELL AS ANY APPEAL FROM A DECISION OR AWARD OF DAMAGES.” (Id. (emphasis in original)). Finally, the Arbitration Agreement states again that it “is not a precondition to the admission or to the furnishing of services to the Resident by the Facility.” (Id.)

         B. Schultz's Death

         Schultz remained at Lake Ridge until August 22, 2016, when she was taken to the hospital. (Def.'s Notice of Removal ¶ 1, Ex. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 18, July 11, 2017, Docket No. 1.) Schultz died in the hospital on September 1, 2016. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff alleges that Schultz's death, due to complications resulting from an extremity fracture, was the result of negligence by Lake Ridge and its staff. (Id. ¶¶ 16-33.)

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Lake Ridge for the wrongful death of Rosemary Schultz in state court on June 20, 2017. (Id.) Lake Ridge removed the case on July 11, 2017, alleging diversity jurisdiction. (Def.'s Notice of Removal.) On July 14, 2017, Lake Ridge filed this Motion to Compel ...


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