GREG MASSEY, AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE ESTATE AND WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF CAROL MASSEY, DECEASED APPELLANT
OASIS HEALTH & REHAB OF YAZOO CITY, LLC D/B/A OASIS HEALTH & REHAB OF YAZOO CITY AND CORETTA CARTER APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 11/09/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JANNIE LEWIS-BLACKMON JUDGE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JOHN F. HAWKINS JASON MATTHEW
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: ANDREW SUTTON BULLOCK WILLIAM EUGENE
This is another case about an arbitration agreement between a
nursing home and a resident. The arbitration agreement in this
case was separate from the admission agreement between the
resident and the facility. In addition, the arbitration
agreement's cover page clearly stated that the agreement
was "voluntary and not a condition for admission"
to the facility and that the resident could withdraw her
consent to arbitrate for any reason within thirty days of
signing the agreement.
The resident, Carol Massey, and her husband, Greg Massey,
both signed the arbitration agreement, and they did not
exercise their right to cancel the agreement. But after Mrs.
Massey passed away, Mr. Massey filed a wrongful death lawsuit
in the Yazoo County Circuit Court against the facility, Oasis
Health & Rehab of Yazoo City (Oasis), and its director of
nursing, Coretta Carter. Oasis and Carter then filed a motion
to compel arbitration. In response, Massey alleged that the
arbitration agreement was unconscionable and that the
admission agreement superseded and nullified the arbitration
agreement. The circuit court found that the arbitration
agreement was valid and enforceable and granted the motion to
compel arbitration. We find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Carol Massey was admitted to Oasis in March 2014. Around the
time of her admission, she and her husband, Greg Massey, both
signed an admission agreement and a separate arbitration
agreement. In various places, the agreements or the
parties' signatures are dated March 3, 4, 5, or 14, 2014.
The record contains no explanatory affidavits, so it is
unclear whether the agreements were signed on different days
or in a particular order. The record also contains no
information about the circumstances of Mrs. Massey's
admission or the age or physical or mental condition of
either Mr. or Mrs. Massey at the time of her admission. All
we know is that both of the Masseys signed both agreements.
The cover page of the arbitration agreement states:
OF BINDING ARBITRATION
Under federal and most state laws, two or more parties may
agree in writing for the settlement of any disputes through
binding arbitration. Arbitration is a method for resolving
disputes without involving the courts. This is often referred
to as an alternate dispute resolution mechanism that may be
more flexible than the court system, and may also be a less
expensive and faster alternative for reaching a resolution of
issues between parties. In using arbitration proceedings, the
disputes are heard by private individuals called arbitrators.
The arbitrators are selected by the Resident and/or the
Resident's Legal Representative and the Facility. The
decision of the arbitrators binds both parties and is final
and nonappealable. By entering into this Binding Arbitration
Agreement, the parties are giving up and waiving their right
to have any claim decided in a court of law before a judge
Please read the attached Resident and Facility Binding
Arbitration Agreement very carefully and ask any questions
you may have. You may also feel free to consult with an
attorney of your choice before signing the attached
Agreement. Signing the Agreement is voluntary and not a
condition for admission. The Resident may withdraw his or her
consent to arbitrate the Resident's claim by notifying
the Facility in writing within thirty days after the
Resident's signing of the Agreement.
headings of the cover page were in large, bold font in all
capital letters. Greg Massey initialed the cover page,
indicating that he had read it or had it explained to him.
The body of the arbitration agreement, which immediately
follows the cover page, provides in relevant parts:
ARBITRATION AGREEMENT ("Agreement")
I. The following is an agreement that any and all claims,
disputes and/or controversies between the Undersigned and the
Facility shall be resolved by binding arbitration. . . . The
parties expressly agree and voluntarily enter into this
Binding Arbitration Agreement (the "Agreement").
Further, the Undersigned and the Facility acknowledge and
agree that the parties have entered into an Admissions
Agreement. The Undersigned and the Facility further
acknowledge that the Admissions Agreement evidences a
transaction involving interstate commerce . . . . Therefore
intending to be legally bound, the Undersigned and the
Facility agree that the Federal Arbitration Act . . .
("FAA") will govern this Agreement.
II. (a) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the
arbitration hearing shall be conducted before a panel of
three arbitrators, (selected from the JAMS, The Resolution
Experts® ("JAMS") Panel), or another set of
arbitration rules to which the parties agree. . . . The
arbitration shall be conducted at a place agreed upon by the
parties, or in the absence of such agreement, in the city in
which the facility is located. The arbitration hearing and
other proceedings relative to the arbitration of the dispute
or controversy, including discovery, shall be conducted in
accordance with the JAMS Comprehensive Arbitration Rules
& Procedures that do not conflict with the FAA (unless
otherwise modified herein) which are hereby incorporated into
this Agreement, and not by a lawsuit or resort to court
(b) The parties agree that damages awarded, if any, in
arbitration conducted pursuant to this Agreement shall be
determined in accordance with the provisions of the law of
the state where this contract is entered applicable to a
comparable civil action. The arbitration panel shall have
authority to award equitable relief (i.e. relief other than
monetary), should the arbitrators so decide.
III. Expenses of the arbitration shall be shared equally by
the parties to this Agreement. All matters relating to the
arbitration, the arbitration proceedings and the arbitration
award, shall remain confidential between the parties. In
consideration for this mutual agreement, the parties
acknowledge that they will mutually benefit from the speedy
and efficient resolution of the dispute or controversy which
binding arbitration is expected to provide, and for other
good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency
of which is hereby acknowledged by all parties hereto.
IV. The Undersigned and the Facility agree that the scope of
this agreement includes all claims, disputes and/or
controversies between the Undersigned and the Facility.
. . . .
I. In the event that any portion of this Agreement will be
determined to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of
this Agreement will be deemed to continue to be binding upon
the parties hereto in the same matter as if the invalid or
unenforceable provision were not a part of the Agreement.
II. The Undersigned, by signing this Agreement, also
acknowledges that the Undersigned has been informed that:
(a) Care, diagnosis or treatment will be provided whether or
not the Undersigned signs the Agreement to arbitrate;
(b) The execution of this Agreement is not a precondition to
receiving medical treatment or for admission to the Facility;
(c) The Agreement shall not be submitted to the Resident for
approval when the Resident's condition prevents the
Resident from making a rational decision whether or not to
(d) The decision whether or not to sign the Agreement is
solely a matter for the Undersigned's determination
without any influence;
(e) The Agreement waives the Undersigned's right to a
trial in court, before a judge and/or a jury, for all
disputes including those at law or in equity, subject to
binding arbitration under this Agreement.
(f) The Undersigned has the right to seek legal counsel
concerning execution of this Agreement.
(g) The Undersigned has received two (2) copies of this
Agreement and acknowledges that the terms have been explained
to him/her or his/her designee by a representative of the
(h) The Undersigned has had an opportunity to ask questions
about this Agreement.
(i) The undersigned has had an opportunity to review the JAMS
Comprehensive Arbitration Rules & Procedures made
available to the undersigned before signing this Agreement.
(j) No provision of this Agreement is intended to waive or
extend applicable Statute of Limitations provided by state
Next, the resident's "right to cancel" the
arbitration agreement is set out on a separate ...