DeCamacho Estate v. La Solana Care and Rehab, Inc. – 1/14/2014

January 27, 2014

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two Holds That Arbitration Provision In Agreement Between A Nursing Home And Resident Provided For Arbitration of Claims Brought By or on Behalf of Resident, Including Claims Brought Pursuant to APSA (A.R.S. § 46-455), But Did Not Require Statutory Beneficiaries to Arbitrate Independent Claims.

In 2010, Josefa DeCamacho passed away after falling outside the front door of the nursing home La Solana where she was a resident.  Her personal representative (“Guthrie”) filed a lawsuit against La Solana, asserting an APSA claim (A.R.S. § 46-455) on behalf of the estate and wrongful death claims (A.R.S. § 12-611) on behalf of DeCamacho’s children.

La Solana moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the Resident Admission Agreement (“Agreement”), and the trial court granted La Solana’s motion.  After the trial court entered the necessary language pursuant to Rule 54(b) to make the ruling appealable, Guthrie appealed. 

The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part.  The Court found that the Agreement was a valid and enforceable contract between La Solana and DeCamacho.  Turning to the arbitration provision in the Agreement, the Court concluded that the terms of the provision provided that claims brought by or on behalf of DeCamacho were subject to arbitration.  Because APSA is a derivative claim—an asset of DeCamacho’s estate that is being brought on her behalf—the claimant is bound by the arbitration provision.  Wrongful death claims, however, are independent claims that belong to the decedent’s statutory beneficiaries and not to the decedent.  The wrongful death claim brought on behalf of DeCamacho’s children was therefore not subject to the arbitration provision, which by its terms did not bind claims brought by DeCamacho’s statutory beneficiaries. 

Presiding Judge Vásquez authored the unanimous opinion; Judges Howard and Miller concurred.