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Arbitration decision in Colorado

Published on December 20th, 2009

McKnight’s had an article about a decision in Colorado regarding the enforcement of an arbitration clause in a nursing home case.  The Colorado court ruled that a healthcare proxy does not have the authority to sign an arbitration agreement on behalf of a nursing home resident.  Under Colorado law, a healthcare proxy is only empowered to make medical decisions on behalf of another, including “provision, withholding, or withdrawal of any health care, medical procedure, including artificially provided nourishment and hydration, surgery, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or service to maintain, diagnose, treat, or provide for a patient’s physical or mental health or personal care,” the Bureau of National Affairs reported.

In the case of Lujan v. Life Care Centers of America, Colorado, Alvin Lujan signed an arbitration agreement, waiving jury trial rights, when admitting his mother, Estella Lujan, to the Life Care Centers of America nursing home. She died three days later, and a wrongful death claim was filed against the facility. Life Care Centers argued that admission to a nursing home is a medical decision and, therefore, the Colorado law applies.  But the Colorado Court of Appeals determined that the signing of an arbitration agreement does not fall under the specific definition of the authorities given to a healthcare proxy. As a result, the Lujan family had the right to sue the facility.

In October, the Nebraska Supreme Court arrived at a similar decision regarding the roll of patient surrogates
 

Joe Pioletti
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