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Date: 04-26-2023

Case Style:

Son Ye Gnoth v. Victorian Square, LLC, d/b/a Victorian Square Assisted Living, et al.

Case Number: 3:22-cv-00004

Judge: Debra C. Poplin

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (Knox County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Casey C. Stansbury, Jason M. Pannu, and Lorne Grant Hiller

Description: Knoxville, Tennessee personal injury lawyers represented Plaintiff who sued Defendants on medical malpractice theories.

On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff was admitted to Victorian Square Assisted Living (“Victorian Square”) [Doc. 18-4 ¶ 1]. Prior to residing at Victorian Square, Plaintiff's representative, Rebekah Gnoth,[2] signed several documents [Doc. 18-1]. Rebekah Gnoth “recall[s] the facility representative giving [her] a stack of papers conveying that they all needed to be signed in order for [Plaintiff] to be admitted to the facility” [Doc. 18-4 ¶ 2]. She contends that “[d]uring the admission process, there was not a lot of time to thoughtfully consider each and every document or consult an attorney, especially because [Plaintiff] needed to be admitted right away” [Id. ¶ 3]. Included in the paperwork was an Agreement to Arbitrate Disputes (“Arbitration Agreement”) [Doc. 16-1]. The Arbitration Agreement states, “Signing this agreement is not a perquisite to the furnishing of services at Victorian Square.” [Id. at 1]. It also includes the following paragraph:

It is understood that any legal claim or civil action arising out of or relating to care or services provided to you at Victorian Square (e.g., claims for refund, breach of contract, intentional tort, wrongful death, elder abuse, unfair business practices) or relating to the validity or enforceability of the Residence and Care Agreement for Victorian Square, will be determined by submission to arbitration as provided in the Tennessee law. This includes claims or actions regarding whether the care or services you received, or lack of care or services, was unnecessary or unauthorized or was improperly, negligently, or incompetently rendered. Both parties to this contract, by entering into it, are giving up their constitutional right to have any such dispute decided in a court of law before a jury, and instead are accepting the use of arbitration.

[Id.]. Rebekah Gnoth does “not specifically recall signing an arbitration agreement or anyone explaining the meaning or effect of the arbitration agreement at the time [she] apparently signed it” [Doc. 18-4 ¶ 4]. She states that she did “not fully understand the Arbitration Agreement's meaning or effect until an attorney with The Higgins Firm explained it to [her] after the filing of this case” [Id. ¶ 5].

On January 4, 2022, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants alleging negligence pursuant to the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act and gross negligence, willful, wanton, reckless, malicious, and/or intentional misconduct [Doc. 1]. Defendants have now moved for arbitration given the agreement above, and Plaintiff has opposed that motion.

Defendant relies on § 4 of the FAA to compel arbitration [Doc. 27 p. 2]. In response, Plaintiff argues that § 4 of the FAA is not applicable, arguing that it is reserved for plaintiffs who seek arbitration. Plaintiff argues that § 3 of the FAA is the appropriate remedy for a defendant seeking to enforce a valid arbitration agreement, but “she desires neither a stay nor dismissal and opposes arbitration altogether”...

Outcome: The Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss.

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