Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
Hernandez v. Crespo
Lualhati Crespo and her husband filed a complaint against Petitioners, Dr. Eileen Hernandez and Women’s Care Florida, after their son was delivered stillborn. Petitioners filed a motion to stay proceedings and compel binding arbitration pursuant to a medical malpractice arbitration agreement between Mrs. Crespo and Petitioners. The Fifth District Court of Appeal concluded that the agreement was void as against public policy. The Supreme Court approved the decision below, holding that the arbitration agreement was void and violated public policy because it included statutory terms favorable only to Petitioners, thereby disrupting the balance of incentives the Legislature carefully crafted to encourage arbitration. Remanded. View "Hernandez v. Crespo" on Justia Law
Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, LLC
When Hampton Court Nursing Father admitted Father to its nursing home facility, Son and Hampton Court signed a a nursing home contract that included an arbitration clause. Father did not sign the contract. Son later filed suit on Father’s behalf, alleging negligence and statutory violations. The circuit court granted Hampton Court’s motion to compel arbitration and stay the judicial proceedings. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that Father was the intended third-party beneficiary of the nursing home contract, and therefore, Hampton Court could bind him to its contract, which Father never signed. The Supreme Court quashed the Third District’s decision, holding that the third-party beneficiary doctrine did not bind Father to the arbitration agreement in the nursing home admission agreement. View "Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, LLC" on Justia Law
Visiting Nurse Ass’n of Fla., Inc. v. Jupiter Med. Ctr., Inc.
In this contract dispute between a home health care agency, Visiting Nurse Association of Florida, Inc. (VNA), and a hospital, Jupiter Medical Center, Inc. (JMC), an arbitration panel granted VNA damages. JMC filed a motion to vacate the arbitration award, alleging that the arbitration panel construed the contract containing an arbitration provision to be an unlawful agreement. The circuit court dismissed the motion to vacate and granted the motion to enforce the award. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed, holding that a court must determine whether a contract is legal prior to enforcing an arbitral award based on the contract. The Supreme Court quashed the Fourth District’s decision, holding (1) the claim that an arbitration panel construed a contract containing an arbitration provision to be an unlawful agreement is an insufficient basis to vacate an arbitrator’s decision pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act or the Florida Arbitration Code; and (2) the arbitration panel did not exceed its powers in this case. View "Visiting Nurse Ass’n of Fla., Inc. v. Jupiter Med. Ctr., Inc." on Justia Law
Basulto v. Hialeah Auto.
Buyers, a married couple from Cuba who were only able to communicate in Spanish, purchased a vehicle from a Dealership. Two of the documents Buyers signed with regard to the purchase contained arbitration clauses, and all of the documents were written in English. Buyers subsequently sued the Dealership for fraud in the inducement and violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The Dealership moved to dismiss the complaint and/or compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that no valid agreement to arbitrate existed because the arbitration provisions were not agreed upon by the parties and that the provisions were unenforceable because they were procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order denying enforcement of the agreement to arbitrate disputes but reversed the order insofar as it declined to enforce the arbitration on the reverse side of the retail installment contract with respect to Buyers’ claims for monetary relief. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District and remanded with instructions to reinstate the trial court’s judgment based on controlling precedent. View "Basulto v. Hialeah Auto." on Justia Law
Franks v. Bowers
After undergoing surgery, Decedent died due to complications resulting from a vein being lacerated during surgery. Decedent's wife, Plaintiff, filed a complaint against the doctor who performed the surgery and the doctor's surgical practice for medical malpractice resulting in wrongful death. Defendants moved to compel arbitration based on a financial agreement signed by Decedent prior to his surgery. The trial court entered an order compelling arbitration, and the court of appeal affirmed. Plaintiff appealed,. The Supreme Court quashed the decision compelling arbitration, holding (1) the damages clause of the arbitration provision of the financial agreement violated the public policy pronounced by the legislature in the Medical Malpractice Act; and (2) the offensive clause was not severable from the remainder of the arbitration provision. View "Franks v. Bowers" on Justia Law
Raymond James Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Phillips
Petitioner Raymond James Financial Services required its clients (the investors) to sign an agreement to arbitrate all disputes arising out of the handling of their investments. At issue in this case was whether Florida's statute of limitations that is applicable to a "civil action or proceeding" applies to arbitration proceedings. In 2005, the investors filed a joint claim for arbitration against Raymond James, alleging federal and state securities violations and negligent supervision. The investors filed an action in state court seeking a declaration that the statute of limitations applied only to judicial actions and thus did not limit the time in which to bring their arbitration claims. The trial court granted declaratory judgment in favor of the investors. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court concluded that the investors' arbitration claims in this case were barred by the statute of limitations, holding that Florida's statute of limitations applies to arbitration because an arbitration proceeding is within the statutory term "civil action or proceeding" found in Fla. Stat. 95.011. View "Raymond James Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Phillips" on Justia Law
McKenzie Check Advance of Fla., LLC v. Betts
Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against a check advance company, asserting claims based on numerous Florida statutes. Plaintiffs later amended the complaint to add Tiffany Kelly as an additional plaintiff and named class member. Because Kelly had signed the version of Defendant's arbitration agreement that contained a class action waiver, this case focused on her contracts with Defendant. The trial court eventually denied Defendant's motion to compel arbitration, ruling that the class action waiver was unenforceable because it was void as against public policy. The court of appeal affirmed, finding that no other reasonable avenue for relief would be available if it enforced the class action waiver. After the court of appeal decided this case, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in AT&T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion. Applying the rationale of Concepcion to the facts set forth in this case, the Supreme Court quashed the court of appeal's decision, holding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempted invalidating the class action waiver in this case on the basis of the waiver being void as against public policy. View "McKenzie Check Advance of Fla., LLC v. Betts" on Justia Law
Laizure v. Avante at Leesburg, Inc.
A nursing home patient (Decedent) signed an agreement providing for arbitration of disputes arising out of treatment and care at the nursing home. Decedent subsequently died, allegedly through the nursing home's negligence. Through Decedent's personal representative, Decedent's survivors (Plaintiffs) subsequently brought a cause of action for deprivation of rights under the applicable nursing home statute and, alternatively, a wrongful death action. At issue on appeal was whether an arbitration agreement signed by the decedent requires his estate and heirs to arbitrate their wrongful death claims. The court of appeal concluded that the estate and heirs were bound by the arbitration agreement but certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Court approved of the court of appeal's decision and answered that the execution of a nursing home arbitration agreement by a patient with capacity to contract binds the patient's estate and statutory heirs in a subsequent wrongful death action arising from an alleged tort within the scope of the valid arbitration agreement. View "Laizure v. Avante at Leesburg, Inc." on Justia Law
Jackson v. Shakespeare Found., Inc.
Petitioners and Respondents entered into a contract for the purchase of real property owned by Petitioners, twenty-five percent of which constituted wetlands. Respondents filed an action against Petitioners for fraudulent misrepresentation, alleging that in the advertisement for the sale of the property, Petitioners knowingly and falsely misrepresented that the property had no wetlands. Petitioners moved to dismiss, asserting that the fraud claim arose out of, and was related to, the contract, and therefore, the claim fell within the arbitration provision of the contract. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the action based on fraud was not a dispute subject to arbitration under the contract. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below and concluded that the fraud action had a contractual nexus with, and a significant relationship to, the contract between Petitioners and Respondents and was, as a general principle, within the scope of the contract's broad arbitration provision. Remanded. View "Jackson v. Shakespeare Found., Inc." on Justia Law
Gessa, etc. v. Manor Care of Florida, Inc., et al.
Petitioner filed suit against respondent, alleging negligence, violation of resident's rights, and breach of fiduciary duty. Respondent moved to compel arbitration. Petitioner raised several issues on appeal. The court held that its decision was controlled in part by Shotts v. OP Winter Haven, Inc., another nursing home arbitration case. Pursuant to the court's reasoning in that case, the court held that the district court erred in the following respects: (i) in ruling that the limitation of liability provisions in this case, which placed a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages and waived punitive damages, were severable; (ii) in failing to rule that the court, not the arbitrator, must decide whether the arbitration agreement violated public policy; and (iii) in failing to rule that the above limitation of liability provisions violated public policy. The court also held that the United States Supreme Court decision in Rent-A-Center, West. Inc. v. Jackson was inapplicable. View "Gessa, etc. v. Manor Care of Florida, Inc., et al." on Justia Law