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Son's Authority to Bind Father Questioned ....

After suffering a heart attack, plaintiff’s father was admitted to a skilled nursing facility where the son was asked to sign an array of documents on his father’s behalf – apparently because his dad suffered, among other things, from “delirium superimposed on dementia.”

A few years later, plaintiff’s father was allegedly pushed by another resident, fell, sustained injuries, and died about six days thereafter.

As administrator of his dad’s estate, plaintiff filed suit seeking recompense for the alleged negligence. And shortly thereafter, the facility moved to compel arbitration (pursuant to the terms of the agreements that that son had signed upon his father’s admission).

While a Queens County Supreme Court Justice granted the nursing home’s request, on appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed.

Since a party seeking to compel arbitration must show the existence of a valid agreement to that effect, the AD2 didn’t think that standard had been sufficiently established here. Neither the plaintiff’s status as the decedent’s son nor his willingness to be the “responsible party” under the admission agreement was enough to bind his father (or the estate) to arbitration. As a result, the AD2 remanded the case for a hearing to determine whether the son had the requisite legal authority to execute the documents on his father’s behalf.

That must have made these defendants delirious ….

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Wolf v. Hollis Operating Co. (Decision & Order, Appellate Division, Second Department)