In a per curiam opinion today applying the rule in Concepcion, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded orders of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, which held unenforceable all predispute arbitration agreements that apply to claims alleging personal injury or wrongful death against nursing homes. Marmet Health Care Center, Inc., et al. v. Clayton Brown, et al., Case Nos. 11–391 and 11–394, 565 U. S. ____ (Feb. 21, 2012).
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the “Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, by misreading and disregarding the precedents of this Court interpreting the FAA, did not follow controlling federal law implementing that basic principle.” Id. “When this Court has fulfilled its duty to interpret federal law, a state court may not contradict or fail to implement the rule so established.”
In each of three negligence suits, a family member of a patient requiring extensive nursing care had signed an agreement with a nursing home on behalf of the patient. Id. The agreements included arbitration clauses requiring the parties to arbitrate all disputes, other than claims to collect late payments owed by the patient. Id. In each of the three cases, a family member of a patient who had died sued the nursing home in state court, alleging that negligence caused injuries or harm resulting in death. Id.
In a decision concerning all three cases, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that “as a matter of public policy under West Virginia law, an arbitration clause in a nursing home admission agreement adopted prior to an occurrence of negligence that results in a personal injury or wrongful death, shall not be enforced to compel arbitration of a dispute concerning the negligence.” Id.
The state court considered whether the state public policy was pre-empted by the FAA: Continue reading