In the underlying case of West et. al v. Provident Group – Creekside Properties, LLC, et. al the Plaintiffs brought a lawsuit against Provident Village claiming that a Provident Village employee shoved Mr. Ronald West, causing injuries that ultimately lead to his death. In response to the Complaint, Provident Village filed a motion to dismiss and compel arbitration based upon an arbitration agreement that was executed by Mr. Ronald West’s conservator at the time he entered the facility. In response, Plaintiffs mainly argued that the Letter of Guardianship/Conservatorship obtained by Mr. Jobe West did not provide express authority for Mr. Jobe West to enter into an arbitration agreement on behalf of his father. The trial court found that Mr. Jobe West assented to the Arbitration Agreement as the legal guardian and conservator of Mr. Ronald West, and that Plaintiffs are required to submit their claims to arbitration. The trial court granted a certificate of immediate review, and Plaintiff applied for interlocutory appeal, which was granted by the Court of Appeals.
Before, this case could be briefed at the Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals ruled in a similar case that court-appointed guardian does not have authority to sign an arbitration agreement on behalf of a ward. Specifically, the Court of Appeals held that Georgia adult guardianship statutes do not authorize a guardian to sign a pre-dispute arbitration agreement. CL SNF, LLC v. Fountain, 355 Ga. App. 176, 843 S.E. 2d 605 (2020). The Court of Appeals then applied its holding in Fountain to this case, ultimately reversing the trial court’s ruling that the Plaintiffs were required to submit their claims to arbitration.
Partner Robert Luskin, Associate Samantha Mullis, and former associate Bert Noble filed a Petition for Certiorari requesting the Georgia Supreme Court overturn the ruling in Fountain and find that the conservator has authority to sign arbitration agreements on behalf of their ward. Recently the Georgia Supreme Court did in fact overturn the ruling in Fountain, holding that a conservator has authority to sign arbitration agreements on behalf of their ward.
On November 1st, the Georgia Supreme Court granted Provident Village’s Petition for Certiorari and remanded the case back to the Georgia Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of the Fountain ruling.
Way to Go Team!