EMILE DALON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AS WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARY OF CAROL ANN DALON, DECEASED AND THE ESTATE OF CAROL ANN DALON
MS HUD OCEAN SPRINGS LLC d/b/a OCEAN SPRINGS HEALTH AND REHABILITATION CENTER, INCORRECTLY NAMED AS GULF COAST HEALTH CARE OF DELAWARE, LLC a/k/a GULF COAST HEALTH CARE LLC, AND LINDA COSIO
OF JUDGMENT: 04/02/2018
JACKSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. KATHY KING JACKSON JUDGE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: DOUGLAS LAMONT TYNES, JR. COURTNEY
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: LYNDA CLOWER CARTER ASHLEY W. GUNN
KITCHENS, P.J., BEAM AND ISHEE, JJ.
This is a nursing-home negligence case concerning the death
of Carol Dalon at Ocean Springs Health and Rehabilitation
Center (OSHRC). Carol's son Emile Dalon, who is the
administrator of her estate and a wrongful-death beneficiary,
filed suit in the Jackson County Circuit Court, alleging that
OSHRC and its employees negligently caused Carol's death.
The circuit court granted the defendants' motion to
compel arbitration, and Emile appeals.
Carol was transferred from another nursing home to OSHRC on
June 2, 2011, after sustaining injuries. At the time she was
admitted, Carol had a history of dementia, depression,
anxiety, insomnia, and delirium, along with other conditions
affecting her communication skills, daily tasks, and
OSHRC's admission agreement, which included an
arbitration agreement, was signed by Emile. Carol had
previously granted Emile a General Durable Power of Attorney
(General POA) and a Power of Attorney for Health Care (Health
Care POA), both of which were in effect when Emile signed the
admission agreement on Carol's behalf.
It was alleged that in late May or early June of 2015, Carol
fell and suffered a broken leg. She died about a month after
her injury was discovered. Emile and Carol's estate then
brought suit, alleging negligence and wrongful death. The
defendants moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, to stay
proceedings and compel arbitration. The circuit court denied
the motion to dismiss but granted the motion to stay
proceedings and compel arbitration. Emile and the estate now
appeal, arguing Emile had no authority to submit his
mother's claims to arbitration.
The sole issue before this Court is whether the circuit court
erred by granting the motion to compel arbitration. Emile
argues three points: (1) he lacked authority to execute the
arbitration agreement, (2) arbitration is unconscionable, and
(3) the chosen forum is not available.
Mississippi will "liberally construe agreements with a
presumption in favor of arbitration." Qualcomm Inc.
v. Am. Wireless License Grp., LLC, 980 So.2d 261, 269
(Miss. 2007) (citing Terminix Int'l, Inc. v.
Rice, 904 So.2d 1051, 1054 (Miss. 2004)). "Under
the Federal Arbitration Act, the Court employs a two-part
test: (1) 'whether the parties intended to arbitrate the
dispute,' and (2) 'whether legal constraints external
to the parties' agreement foreclosed the arbitration of
those claims.'" Harrison Cty. Commercial Lot,
LLC v. H. Gordon Myrick, Inc., 107 So.3d 943, 949 (Miss.
2013) (quoting Scruggs v. Wyatt, 60 So.3d 758, 766
(Miss. 2011)). For the reasons explained below, this Court
finds that both parties intended to arbitrate and that no
external legal constraints foreclosed arbitration.
Arbitration agreements are contracts and are governed as
such. Scruggs, 60 So.3d at 767. "The elements
of a contract are '(1) two or more contracting parties,
(2) consideration, (3) an agreement that is sufficiently
definite, (4) parties with legal capacity to make a contract,
(5) mutual assent, and (6) no legal prohibition precluding
contract formation.'" Adams Cmty. Care Ctr., LLC
v. Reed, 37 So.3d 1155, 1158 (Miss. 2010) (quoting
Grenada Living Ctr., LLC v. Coleman, 961 So.2d 33,
37 (Miss. 2007)). Emile argues that the legal-capacity
element is missing here because he lacked the authority to
execute the agreement on Carol's behalf. We find this
argument meritless because, at the time the arbitration
agreement was signed, Emile had both a General POA and a
Healthcare POA over Carol.
Additionally, Emile argues that he had neither express nor
apparent authority to sign the arbitration agreement on
Carol's behalf. But we find that the General POA and
Healthcare POA gave ...