Extendicare asks Supreme Court to decide whether nursing home arbitration agreements prevent certain wrongful death suits

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The U.S. Supreme Court building
The U.S. Supreme Court building

Extendicare Homes Inc. is seeking a Supreme Court ruling on the reach of nursing home arbitration agreements, according news reports.

The case in question has worked its way through the courts in Pennsylvania. It involves Vincent Pisano, who died in an Extendicare facility in 2011, according to legal documents. His heirs then filed a wrongful death suit.

Wisconsin-based Extendicare sought to have the lawsuit dismissed and to compel arbitration, arguing that Pisano's daughter signed an arbitration agreement when her father was admitted. However, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the state's wrongful death statute creates “an independent cause of action.” This means the plaintiffs could pursue wrongful death charges but not personal injury claims that they also had filed.

Extendicare says that ruling contradicts previous court decisions in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, courts in other states have ruled differently on this question, so Extendicare says that resolution from the Supreme Court is needed. Courts in Florida, Texas and other states have held that arbitration agreements do extend to wrongful death claims, while courts in Ohio and Missouri have ruled the opposite, according to Extendicare's Supreme Court petition.

The petition was filed May 23, the Bureau of National Affairs reported just yesterday.

The nation's high court has rejected prior petitions in similar cases.

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