Arbitration agreement

A South Carolina nursing facility is being forced to litigate a wrongful death dispute with a former resident’s family, even though they signed an arbitration agreement.

While Hilda Stott did sign the document on behalf of her uncle, Jolly Davis, she did not have the proper authority to make the decision, and was not bound by it, the South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Davis first entered White Oak of Spartanburg, SC, in January 2013. Niece Stott signed all admission forms on his behalf, despite her uncle possessing intact mental functioning and alertness. He died two weeks later and Stott sued, alleging overmedication and dehydration led to his death.

White Oak attempted to enforce arbitration, but the niece’s durable power of attorney for finance did not give her the authority to sign the original agreement because that power was not in place when Davis entered the home. The healthcare power of attorney designation also did not grant the niece the authority to sign an arbitration pact, the court deemed. That’s because the form used was only effective upon Davis becoming mentally incompetent, which he was not at the time of admission.

A company official said Friday that White Oak does not comment on pending litigation.