Hilda Stott, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Jolly P. Davis, deceased, and as Personal Representative of the Statutory Beneficiaries, Respondent,
White Oak Manor, Inc.; White Oak Management, Inc.; and White Oak Manor-Spartanburg, Inc. d/b/a White Oak of Spartanburg, Appellants. Appellate Case No. 2016-001732
Submitted February 11, 2019
From Spartanburg County J. Derham Cole, Circuit Court Judge
Elliott Rogers, II and Ginger D. Goforth, both of The Ward
Law Firm, P.A., of Spartanburg, for Appellants.
W. Poliakoff and Raymond Paul Mullman, Jr., both of Poliakoff
& Associates, PA, of Spartanburg, and Jordan C. Calloway
of McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, of Rock Hill for
civil case, White Oak Manor, Inc. (White Oak)--a skilled
nursing facility--appeals the circuit court's order
denying White Oak's motion to compel arbitration of
wrongful death and survival actions brought by Hilda Stott as
personal representative of the estate of Jolly P. Davis
(Decedent). On appeal, White Oak argues the circuit court
erred in finding Stott lacked the authority to execute White
Oak's admission documents--including an arbitration
agreement (the Arbitration Agreement)--on Decedent's
behalf. We affirm.
December 22, 2012, Emergency Medical Services transferred
Decedent to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center (Spartanburg
Regional) after Decedent informed his niece, Stott, that his
oxygen saturation levels had dropped. After Decedent was
stabilized at Spartanburg Regional, he was admitted to White
Oak on January 2, 2013, for "rehabilitation [and]
possibly long-term care." The same day as Decedent's
admission to White Oak, Stott, acting as Decedent's
authorized representative,  signed White Oak's admission
documentation--including the Arbitration Agreement.
Decedent's initial evaluation at White Oak found he
possessed intact mental functioning and he was alert and
oriented to time, place, and situation. Decedent also
correctly answered questions about his location, his age, his
birthday, the current date and year, and current and past
presidents. Over the next two weeks, Decedent was transferred
between Spartanburg Regional and White Oak multiple times
before Decedent passed away on January 16, 2013.
December 16, 2015, Stott filed wrongful death and survival
actions against White Oak alleging Decedent was
"overmedicated and dehydrated which led to his untimely
death." White Oak filed a motion to compel arbitration
based on the Arbitration Agreement. At the circuit court's
hearing, Stott argued her durable power of attorney for
finance was ineffective to grant her the authority to sign
the Arbitration Agreement on Decedent's behalf. White Oak
argued Stott's durable power of attorney for finance was
effective to authorize her to sign the Arbitration Agreement
on Decedent's behalf because Decedent was physically
circuit court ruled in Stott's favor and issued an order
denying White Oak's motion to compel arbitration. The
circuit court found (1) Decedent had full capacity to sign
the Arbitration Agreement at the time of his admission to
White Oak, (2) Stott's durable power of attorney for
finance did not become effective until after Stott signed the
Arbitration Agreement because it was not recorded as required
by law, and (3) Stott's healthcare power of attorney did
not authorize Stott to enter into the Arbitration Agreement
because Decedent was competent when the Arbitration Agreement
was signed. The circuit court relied on Coleman v.
Mariner Health Care, Inc. in finding "the authority to
make healthcare decisions does not extend to arbitration
agreements." This appeal followed.
a claim is arbitrable "is an issue for judicial
determination, unless the parties provide otherwise."
Zabinski v. Bright Acres Assocs., 346 S.C. 580, 596,
553 S.E.2d 110, 118 (2001). The appellate court reviews the
circuit court's determination of whether a claim is
arbitrable under a de novo standard. Chassereau v. Global
Sun Pools, Inc., 373 S.C. 168, 171, 644 S.E.2d 718, 720
(2007). "However, a circuit court's factual findings
will not be reversed on appeal if any evidence reasonably
supports those findings." Timmons v. Starkey,
380 S.C. 590, 595, 671 S.E.2d 101, 104 (Ct. App. 2008).
Durable Power of ...