On July 10, 2014, the Pennsylvania Superior Court found in favor of a nursing facility in an arbitration case holding that a valid arbitration agreement existed between the nursing facility and the former resident who died at the facility. As a result, in the case of MacPherson v. Magee Memorial Hospital for Convalescence, the court invoked the liberal policy favoring arbitration agreements contained in the Federal Arbitration Act and state law, and remanded the negligence suit against the nursing facility to arbitration. The Superior Court distinguished this case from Pisano v. Extendicare Homes, Inc. in which it found that wrongful death and survival actions are separate rights of action deriving from an individual's death, not from the decedent's rights. In MacPherson, however, the court held that wrongful death rights belong only to the individuals named in the statute (i.e., parents, children, and spouses). In this case, the executor was the brother of the deceased resident, so he had no wrongful death rights. As a personal representative, he is bound by the arbitration agreement.
The Pisano case was appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; however, the court declined to hear Extendicare's appeal. Also worth mentioning is that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be hearing an appeal by Golden Living Center of a Superior Court's December 2013 arbitration ruling. We will provide an update on the outcome of the ruling.