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Philadelphia Court Refuses to Enforce Arbitration Provision

On April 3, 2017, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas refused to uphold an arbitration provision in a Responsible Person Agreement (“RPA”) signed by a nursing home resident’s daughter, but not signed by the resident herself. Clementson v. Evangelical Manor, Civil Action No. 160601775 (C.P. Philadelphia 2017). On September 17, 2014, Plaintiff, Elsie Clementson, was a resident of Defendant Evangelical Manor’s nursing home when she suffered a serious fall, resulting in a tibia fracture. When Plaintiff was admitted to the nursing home in 2012, Plaintiff’s daughter signed an RPA, which stated that the person signing the agreement may be “the Guardian, the Agent under a Power of Attorney, or any person authorized by the Resident to serve as Resident’s Responsible Person.” The RPA also contained a mandatory arbitration provision. At the time the RPA was signed, Plaintiff’s daughter did not have power of attorney over her mother, nor was she authorized by her mother to serve as her mother’s “Responsible Person.”

Plaintiff filed her Complaint on June 17, 2016. On November 3, 2016, Defendant filed a Petition to Compel Arbitration. On December 19, 2016, the Court denied Defendant’s Petition, which it timely appealed. On appeal, the Court upheld the decision to deny Defendant’s Petition, as Pennsylvania law does not allow an agent, by his own words, to invest himself with apparent authority, as such authority has to derive from the action of the principal, not the agent. The Court ruled that Defendant failed to provide any evidence that Plaintiff was present at the time that her daughter signed the RPA, or that her daughter could sign for her. Defendant also failed to offer any evidence of actions taken by Plaintiff that would create an agency relationship.

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