Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed September 20, 2012
Carter v. SSC Odin Operating Co., 2012 IL 113204
Appellate citation: 2011 IL App (5th) 70392-B.
JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Thomas, Garman, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.
Justices Freeman and Karmeier took no part in this decision.
Joyce Gott was a resident of defendant Odin Healthcare Center for two months in 2005 and again in early 2006. She died there on January 31, 2006. The special administrator of her estate, the plaintiff here, filed a complaint in the circuit court of Marion County, stating a survival action under the Nursing Home Care Act and seeking damages under the Wrongful Death Act. It was alleged that as a result of the defendant’s violations of the Nursing Home Care Act, personal injuries had been sustained in the form of gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia, and respiratory failure. The wrongful- death claim sought damages for injuries sustained by the decedent’s heirs. Defendant nursing home sought to compel arbitration based on agreements signed by the decedent and by the plaintiff as her “legal representative.” The trial court, however, refused to compel arbitration. It viewed the agreement as unenforceable for lack of mutuality and as contrary to Illinois public policy. It also said that the wrongful-death claim was not arbitrable and did not view the Federal Arbitration Act as applicable.
In defendant nursing home’s first appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court held in 2010 that the federal statute was preemptive and remanded for the appellate court to resolve the other issues. On remand, the appellate court accepted the applicability of the Federal Arbitration Act but still affirmed the circuit court. Defendant again appealed.
In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the Survival Act claim, which alleged Nursing Home Care Act violations and which sought damages for injuries sustained by the decedent while she lived, was one as to which arbitration could be compelled pursuant to the agreement.
However, the wrongful-death claim did not accrue until Joyce Gott died, and benefits obtained under it are payable to the decedent’s next of kin rather than to her estate. No previously signed arbitration agreement is applicable to this claim.
The appellate court was affirmed in part and reversed in part.