Alabama Supreme Court rules that arbitration agreement signed by man who suffered from chronic dementia is binding because it could not be proved that he was incompetent at the time of signing. He lost 50 lb.s due to malnutrition and died a year later while in a nursing home. His estate sued the nursing home for malpractice and negligence. The nursing home moved the court to enforce the arbitration agreement and the Supremes agreed. Moral of story, don’t sign arbitration agreements, and don’t allow your agent under a power of attorney to sign one either. See, Supreme Court of Alabama, Special Term, 2015, 1140090, Troy Health and Rehabilitation Center v. Brenda McFarland, as personal representative of the Estate of Garnell Wilcoxon, Appeal from Pike Circuit Court (CV-13-900068).
Alabama Supreme Court discusses arbitration enforcement in recent decision. By now everyone should know about the arbitration clauses found in almost every written contract. You can’t buy a car or get a phone service plan without agreeing to them. Why should you care? Because you give up a lot of rights–jury trial most importantly and punitive damages. So how can you get out of them? The main reason would be fraud–you were induced to sign the contract through misrepresentation. However, as the Court states most emphatically, you better have proof! See Supreme Court of Alabama, Oct. Term, 2014-15, 130184, Ex parte Alaska Bush Adventures, LLC, et al. Petition for Writ of Mandamus, (In re: Guy R. Willis v. Alaska Bush Adventures, LLC, et al.) 1130231.
The Alabama Supreme Court has followed suit and come down on the side of arbitration in its most recent decision dealing with arbitrability. Arbitrability is the issue of whether the arbitrator gets to decide whether your issues are subject to arbitration. In other words, even if your issues fall outside of the scope of the arbitration agreement, the arbitrator gets to decide that issue. See Regions Bank v. Jerry Wayne Neighbors, Appeal from Montgomery Circuit Court, (CV-13-901459).