Vickers v. Canal Pointe Nursing Home and Rehab Ctr: Reconciling Peters with the Federal Arbitration Act


In the case Vickers v. Canal Pointe Nursing Home and Rehab Ctr., decided on June 1, 2016 by the Ninth District Court of Appeals, the Court was forced to reconcile the Ohio precedent in Peters v. Columbus Steel Castings Co., 115 Ohio St. 3d 134, 2007-Ohio-4787, with the provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act. In Vickers, Mr. Vickers was the son of a man who died while a patient at Canal Pointe. Mr. Vickers brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against Canal Pointe over the care and treatment that his father had received. When Mr. Vickers admitted his father to the facility, he signed the standard paperwork which included an arbitration agreement. Upon filing his lawsuit, Canal Pointe countered with a Motion to Compel Arbitration which was, in turn, ultimately granted by the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.

On review at the appellate level, the trial court’s decision was reversed and the order compelling arbitration was vacated. The basis of Mr. Vickers argument was the longstanding recognition in Ohio that arbitrations may be compelled by matter of contract, but survival claims and wrongful death claims are separate and distinct from contractual claims. This is the position that was set forth in Peters. Canal Pointe, however, relied upon the United States Supreme Court decision in Marmet Health Care Center, Inc. v. Brown, 132 S.Ct. 1201 (2012). In Marmet Health, the United States Supreme Court held that when a state law prohibits the arbitration of a particular class of claims, state law is superseded by the Federal Arbitration Act. In Marmet Health, the law in question was a categorical ban on the arbitration of certain claims against nursing homes.

The Ninth District Court of Appeals distinguished Peters from Marmet Health and noted that there was no such categorical ban in Ohio. As a result, Ohio would allow mandated arbitration for certain claims, such as those that arose out of a contract, but would not mandate arbitration for claimants who are not parties to the contract in the first place.

The court found that “absent Mr. Vickers or his father’s other beneficiaries signing the arbitration agreement in an individual capacity, ‘they cannot be forced into arbitration.’” Vickers at paragraph 14.

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