Can a Medical Provider Cancel the Arbitration Agreement they Previously Had Agreed To?
On Sept. 2, 2020, in Estate of King v. Aperion Care, the Indiana Court of Appeals remanded to the trial court a case involving a malpractice claim filed by the estate of a nursing home resident with instructions to grant the estate’s motion to compel arbitration.
On June 8, 2017, the Estate of Sandra King filed a proposed complaint alleging medical malpractice with the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) following a determination by the IDOI that Aperion Care d/b/a Aperion Care Tolleston Park is a qualified healthcare
provider under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. During discovery, the Estate learned that King signed an arbitration agreement , which indicated that all claims against Aperion were to be resolved exclusively by arbitration. The Estate asked the Court to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the Estate’s motion, finding that the matter was not yet ready for arbitration. The Estate appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in denying its motion to compel arbitration.
The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the appeal and heard both sides on the issue. The Court ultimately agreed with the Estate and reversed the judgment of the trial court and instructed the trial court to compel arbitration between the two parties.
The Court outlined it’s rationale in their opinion. Aperion Care argued that the Estate had to first go through the medical review panel process required by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. In response to this argument, the Estate claims that the Act does not apply in this case because the Arbitration Agreement provided the exclusive avenue for resolution of its claims. The Court stated that normally, the process must first go through the medical review panel but the
Indiana Code recognizes that parties can agree to waive the requirement that the case first be submitted to a medical-review panel, providing that “a claimant may commence an action in court for malpractice without the presentation of the claim to a medical review panel if the claimant and all parties named as defendants in the action agree that the claim is not to be presented to a medical review panel. Essentially, that is what both parties did here.
You can read the entire case here. https://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/09022001cb.pdf