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Golden Gate National Senior Care, LLC v. Estate of Blevins Ex Rel. Patton

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

March 30, 2015

GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL SENIOR CARE, LLC; GGNSC VANCEBURG, LLC; GGNSC ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES, LLC; GGNSC HOLDINGS, LLC; GGNSC EQUITY HOLDINGS, LLC; GOLDEN GATE ANCILLARY, LLC; and GGNSC CLINICAL SERVICES, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE ESTATE OF NELLIE BLEVINS, by and through MICHAEL PATTON, Executor, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Docket No.4] and Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Enjoin Defendant [Docket No.6]. The motions have been fully briefed [Docket Nos. 4-1, 5, 6-3, 7 and 8]. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court will overrule Defendant's motion and sustain that of Plaintiffs.

I.

In late December of 2011, Michael Patton admitted his mother, Nellie Patton Blevins, to the Golden LivingCenter - Vanceburg, a nursing home in Vanceburg, Kentucky. At that time, Michael Patton had been appointed his mother's legal guardian and had the authority to execute legal instruments and contracts on her behalf [Exhibit B to Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Enjoin Defendant, Docket No. 6-2]. As part of the admission process and on his mother's behalf, Michael Patton signed an arbitration agreement. The agreement is conspicuously titled "Alternative Dispute Resolution Agreement" [Exhibit A to Complaint, Docket No. 1-1].

Under the plain terms of the arbitration agreement, the parties agreed that any disputes arising out of Nellie Blevins' residency at Golden LivingCenter - Vanceburg must be submitted to binding arbitration. The agreement states, among other provisions, that the signatory "has the right to seek legal counsel concerning this Arbitration Agreement", that execution of the agreement is not a precondition to admission or residence at the Facility, and that the signatory may revoke the agreement by providing written notice to the facility within thirty (30) days of signature. [Docket No. 1-1, p. 3]. Neither party suggests that such notice was provided. Therefore, the arbitration agreement is presumably in full force and effect.

The arbitration agreement provides in pertinent part as follows:

The Parties agree that any disputes covered by this Agreement ("Covered Disputes") that may arise between them shall be resolved exclusively by an ADR process that shall include mediation and, where mediation is not successful, binding arbitration....
THE PARTIES UNDERSTAND, ACKNOWLEDGE, AND AGREE THAT THEY ARE SELECTING A METHOD OF RESOLVING DISPUTES WITHOUT RESORTING TO LAWSUITS OR THE COURTS, AND THAT BY ENTERING INTO THIS AGREEMENT, THEY ARE GIVING UP THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HAVE THEIR DISPUTES DECIDED IN A COURT OF LAW BY A JUDGE OR JURY, THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT THEIR CLAIMS AS A CLASS ACTION AND/OR TO APPEAL ANY DECISION OR AWARD OF DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE ADR PROCESS EXCEPT AS PROVIDED HEREIN.

Id. (emphasis in original).

Nellie Belvins remained a resident of the Golden LivingCenter - Vanceburg until her death, on May 31, 2013.

On June 23, 2014, Defendants filed in the Circuit Court of Lewis County, Kentucky, Case No. 14-CI-00 102, a negligence, medical negligence, corporate negligence, violation of long term care resident's rights, and wrongful death action against Golden Gate National Senior Care, LLC; GGNSC Vanceburg, LLC: GNSC Administrative Services, LLC; GGNSC Holdings, LLC; GGNSC Equity Holdings, LLC; GGNSC Equity Holdings II, LLC; Golden Gate Ancillary, LLC; GGNSC Clinical Services, LLC; GPH Vanceburg, LLC; Melissa Bentley, in her capacity as Administrator of Golden Living Center - Vanceburg; Joy Dingess, in her capacity as Administrator of Golden Living Center - Vanceburg; and John Does 1 through 5.

On July 21, 2014, Golden Gate National Senior Care, LLC; GGNSC Vanceburg, LLC; GGNSC Administrative Services, LLC; GGNSC Holdings, LLC; GGNES Equity Holdings, LLC; Golden Gate Ancillary, LLC; and GGNSC Clinical Services, LLC filed a Complaint with this Court, as Plaintiffs, alleging federal subject matter jurisdiction by virtue of diversity and seeking substantially the same relief from this Court regarding arbitration as they had demanded in State court; namely, to find the ADR Agreement to be valid and enforceable; to compel Defendants to arbitrate the State Court claims; and to enter an order enjoining the Defendants from pursuing their claims in the State Court Action.

Defendant seeks a dismissal of the instant lawsuit. He contends that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction; that it should abstain from hearing this action in light of the pending state-court matter; that the arbitration agreement at issue is invalid and unenforceable; and that the Court should not exercise its power to enjoin him from continuing the prosecution of his state-court action.

Plaintiffs seek entry of an Order compelling Defendant to proceed to arbitration and, in addition, enjoining him from pursing his claims in state court.

II.

The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6), is to allow a defendant to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff is entitled to legal relief. See Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993). This requires a consideration of and a ruling upon the merits of a claim. In determining whether dismissal is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must be construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and its allegations taken as true. Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir. 1995). If, in doing so, the Court determines that the case is legally insufficient, it will be dismissed.

The procedure under a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(1) is quite different. At issue in a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is the trial court's jurisdiction-its very power to hear the case. In this context, the trial court may proceed as it never could under 12(b)(6) -no presumptive truthfulness attaches to either party's allegations and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims. Moreover the party claiming jurisdiction will have the burden of proof ...


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