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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Wrongful death case sent to arbitration by Mississippi Supreme Court

State Supreme Court

By Charmaine Little | Sep 26, 2019


JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – A wrongful death case against Ocean Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center (OSHRC) will go to arbitration, Mississippi's highest court has ruled.

OSHRC, which is being blamed for a resident’s death, was granted its motion to compel arbitration in the lawsuit filed by the decedent’s son in Jackson County Circuit Court. That ruling was appealed and the Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed that ruling Sept. 12. 

Emile Dalon sued on behalf of his deceased mother, Carol Ann Dalon, alleging that OSHRC workers negligently caused her passing. The ruling states that Carol Ann Dalon was admitted to OSHRC in 2011, fell sometime in May or June 2015 and sustained a broken leg, and died a month after her injury was discovered.

In his appeal, Emile Dalon alleged he didn’t have the authority to execute an arbitration agreement on his mother's behalf. He also argued that arbitration is unacceptable and that the selected forum isn’t available. 

“We find Emile’s arguments meritless, and we affirm the decision of the Jackson County Circuit Court granting the motion to compel arbitration,” Justice David M. Ishee wrote.

Ishee pointed out that not only did Emile Dalon sign admission documents upon Carol’s entry to OSHRC, but that he was the general durable power of attorney and the health care power of attorney for her at the time.

The general power of attorney agreement states: “I hereby give and grant unto my said attorney full power and authority to do and perform every act and thing whatsoever requisite and necessary to be done in and about the premises, as fully to all intents and purposes as I might or could do if personally present, with full power of substitution or revocation, hereby ratifying and confirming all that. My said attorney, or her substitute or substitutes, have done, shall do, or cause to be done lawfully by virtue of these presents,” according to the ruling.

Ishee also disagreed with Emile Dalon’s challenge that the arbitration agreement is unconscionable. The ruling states the agreement was "conspicuous," was "highly visible." Ishee said the agreement isn’t unclear or even questionable and Emile failed to present evidence that showed otherwise.

As for Emile Dalon's argument that the selected forum isn’t available, Ishee wrote: “The current policy only requires that a court affirmatively direct that the matter be arbitrated, which the Circuit Court has already done.”

Given this, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

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