Daughter Who Saw Mother Abused by Nursing Facility Not Bound By Mother’s Arbitration Agreement

A resident of a skilled nursing facility sued the facility for elder abuse and other negligence claims. The resident’s daughter also brought a claim, in the same action, alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress from witnessing her mother being mistreated.


The facility moved to compel arbitration based on an agreement with the resident, signed on the resident’s behalf by the daughter as her legal representative. Pursuant to state statute, arbitration is precluded if a party to an arbitration agreement is also a party to a pending court action with a third party arising from the same transaction and there is a possibility of conflicting rulings on a common issue of law or fact. The facility argued that the daughter was a party to the agreement, since she actually signed it on her mother’s behalf, and the agreement explicitly binds the mother’s heirs and representatives.


The trial court ruled that the daughter was not a party to the agreement, because her claims were brought on her own behalf based on her personal emotional distress, rather than as her mother’s representative or heir. Since there was a possibility of conflicting rulings of law or fact if the mother’s claims went to arbitration and the daughter’s were heard by the court, the trial court declined to compel arbitration. The appellate court affirmed.


See: Bush v. Horizon West, 2012 WL 1492841 (Cal. App. 3 Dist.  Apr 09, 2012), as modified (Apr 30, 2012) (not designated for publication).