Arbitration is becoming increasingly popular. Many companies often prefer arbitration hearings to air out and resolve disputes over addressing claims in court through litigation because of the lower cost, greater convenience, and comparatively speedier process that arbitration offers. Arbitrations, however, often lack transparency and provide limited recourse after a final decision has been made because appeals are typically unavailable. Thus, some plaintiffs often prefer to battle it out in the courts over an arbitration hearing.
In a recent Florida appeals decision, the court considered a motion to compel arbitration between two parties. The case involved a plaintiff who was a resident of the defendant nursing home. The plaintiff alleged that the nursing home failed to provide necessary care and shelter when Hurricane Irma hit. The plaintiff argued that the nursing home negligently allowed for its residents to stay in high heat conditions for days, failed to evacuate residents when conditions became dangerous and life-threatening, and lacked a proper plan to evacuate in the case of an emergency. The defendant moved to compel arbitration under a clause in a contract between the parties. The plaintiff objected, claiming that her tort claims were not covered by the arbitration clause. The lower court ruled in favor of the defendants by granting the motion to compel arbitration, and the plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s holding and sided with the defendants. The plaintiff’s claims, the court reasoned, were related to and arose from the contract between the parties. In addition, the plaintiff’s entire relationship with the defendant was based on that contract, meaning that the plaintiff’s claims involving the defendant’s failure to provide services and protect her should be resolved through the arbitration clause within that same agreement.