California Supreme Court Watch

Nov 16, 2022
Harrod v. Country Oaks Partners, S276545.

#22-289 Harrod v. Country Oaks Partners, LLC, S276545. (B312967; 82 Cal.App.5th 365; Los Angeles County Superior Court; 20STCV26536.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration in a civil action. This case presents the following issue: Does an agent operating under an advance health care directive and power of attorney for health care decisions have the authority to enter into an arbitration agreement with a nursing facility on behalf of the principal?

Petition for review granted: 11/16/2022

Case fully briefed: 5/05/2023

Cause argued and submitted: 1/04/2024

Opinion filed: Judgment affirmed in full: 3/28/2024

See the Court of Appeal Opinion.

See the Petition for Review.

See the Oral Argument.

See the California Supreme Court Opinion.  (Harrod v. Country Oaks Partners (2024) 15 Cal.5th 939.)

“Under California’s Health Care Decisions Law (Prob. Code, § 4600 et seq.), a principal may appoint a health care agent to make health care decisions should the principal later lack capacity to make them. In this case, a health care agent signed two contracts with a skilled nursing facility. One, with state-dictated terms, secured the principal’s admission to the facility. The other made arbitration the exclusive pathway for resolving disputes with the facility. This second contract was optional and had no bearing on whether the principal could access the facility or receive care. The issue before us is whether execution of the second, separate, and optional contract for arbitration was a health care decision within the health care agent’s authority. It was not, and the facility’s owners and operators may not, therefore, rely on the agent’s execution of that second agreement to compel arbitration of claims arising from the principal’s alleged maltreatment that have been filed in court. We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remand for further court proceedings.”  (Fn. omitted.)

Justice Jenkins authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Guerrero and Justices Corrigan, Liu, Kruger, Groban, and Evans concurred.

In the news: Cooley, Health Care Power of Attorney Did Not Authorize Agreement to Arbitrate, Metropolitan News-Enterprise (Mar. 29, 2024).