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GGNSC Louisville Camelot, LLC v. Coppedge

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

March 19, 2018

JOYCE COPPEDGE, as Administratrix of the Estate of Amanda Coppedge, Defendant.


          David J. Hale, Judge United States District Court

         Joyce Coppedge sued various GGNSC entities and affiliates in Jefferson Circuit Court on behalf of her mother-in-law Amanda Coppedge, who was a resident of Golden LivingCenter - Camelot, a skilled nursing facility located in Louisville, Kentucky, and operated by GGNSC.[1](See D.N. 1-2) Coppedge alleges that GGNSC violated Amanda's rights as a nursing-home resident under Kentucky law and negligently injured her, ultimately resulting in her wrongful death. (Id., PageID # 27-36, 42-43) Coppedge also sued two Golden LivingCenter administrators, asserting similar claims. (Id., PageID # 38-43)

         GGNSC filed this action pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, seeking to compel arbitration of Coppedge's claims and enjoin her from pursuing the state-court action. (D.N. 1) GGNSC has moved to compel arbitration. (D.N. 5) Coppedge moves to dismiss on various grounds. (D.N. 6) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Coppedge's motion to dismiss and grant GGNSC's motion to compel arbitration, excluding Coppedge's wrongful-death claim. Coppedge will accordingly be enjoined from continuing the state-court action on all but the wrongful-death claim.

         I. Background

         In November 2013, Golden LivingCenter - Camelot admitted Amanda Coppedge as a resident. (D.N. 1-2, PageID # 19) As part of the admissions process, Joyce Coppedge, allegedly acting lawfully as Amanda's attorney-in-fact, executed an arbitration agreement. (See D.N. 1-1)

         The ADR Agreement requires the parties to arbitrate

all claims in law or equity arising from one Party's failure to satisfy a financial obligation to the other Party; a violation of a right claimed to exist under federal, state, or local law or contractual agreement between the Parties; tort; breach of contract; consumer protection; fraud; misrepresentation; negligence; gross negligence; malpractice; and any alleged departure from any applicable federal, state, or local medical, health care, consumer, or safety standards.

(Id., PageID # 12) The Agreement bound Amanda and her legal representatives. (Id., PageID # 11)

         Joyce Coppedge asserts various claims of negligence against GGNSC in the state-court action on Amanda's behalf. (See D.N. 1-2) According to the state-court complaint, GGNSC failed to discharge its obligations of care to Amanda Coppedge, and in so failing, caused Amanda to suffer injuries, which allegedly resulted in her wrongful death. (See id.).

         In this case, GGNSC seeks to compel arbitration of Coppedge's claims pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. (D.N. 1) Because the FAA does not provide federal-question jurisdiction, Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 21-22 n.32 (1983), GGNSC invoked the Court's diversity jurisdiction. (See D.N. 1, PageID # 5) Coppedge argues that diversity is lacking and that dismissal is warranted on various other legal and equitable grounds. (See D.N. 6-2)

         II. Motion to Dismiss

          According to Coppedge, the present action should be dismissed (i) for GGNSC's failure to join an indispensable party; (ii) on the basis of Colorado River abstention; (iii) because the Federal Arbitration Act does not apply; (iv) because she did not have the requisite authority to sign the ADR Agreement on Amanda's behalf; (v) because the ADR Agreement is unconscionable; (vi) because of the Anti-Injunction Act; (vii) and because the wrongful-death claim is not subject to the ADR Agreement. (See D.N. 6-2) This Court has previously found that wrongful-death claims are not barred by arbitration agreements between decedents and nursing homes, see Brandenburg Health Facilities, LP v. Mattingly, No. 3:15-cv-833-DJH, 2016 WL 3448733, at *6 (W.D. Ky. June 20, 2016), and the same reasoning applies here. However, the Court has addressed-and rejected-Coppedge's remaining arguments in numerous recent cases. See, e.g., GGNSC Louisville St. Matthews v. Grevious, No. 3:16-cv-829-DJH, 2017 WL 3623805 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 23, 2017); Mattingly, 2016 WL 3448733; GGNSC Louisville Mt. Holly, LLC v. Mohamed-Vall, No. 3:16-cv-136-DJH, 2016 WL 9024811 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 6, 2016); GGNSC Louisville Hillcreek, LLC v. Watkins, No. 3:15-cv-902-DJH, 2016 WL 815295 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 29, 2016). Coppedge is represented by the same counsel that represented defendants in those cases, and her lawyers have submitted briefs in this litigation containing legal arguments practically identical to those the Court considered and rejected in previous cases. The Court's discussion of the pending motions will accordingly be brief. Consistent with its prior rulings, the Court will deny Coppedge's motion and compel her to arbitrate all but the wrongful-death claim.

         a. Jurisdiction

         Coppedge first argues that this court lacks jurisdiction because indispensable nondiverse parties (i.e., Golden LivingCenter administrators Clifton Lake and Kathy Dearing) were not joined. (D.N. 6-2, PageID # 123-36) Contrary to Coppedge's assertion, the nursing-home administrators are not indispensable: “the Court can decide the entire controversy in [their] absence; [their] interests in the litigation are the same as [GGNSC's]; and there is no danger of inconsistent obligations.” Grevious, 2017 WL 3623805, at *2; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a); PaineWebber, Inc. v. Cohen, 276 F.3d 197 (6th Cir. 2001) (finding that an investment brokerage firm's branch manager was not an indispensable party to a federal action to compel arbitration).

         Coppedge's reliance on Cytec Industries, Inc. v. Powell, 630 F.Supp.2d 680 (N.D. W.Va. 2009), does not change this conclusion. As the Eastern District of Kentucky previously observed, “Cytec has no precedential effect on this Court [and] the conclusion reached in Cytec directly contradicts the holdings of many courts in this District and beyond that nursing home administrators who are named as defendants in parallel state court actions are not indispensable parties to [a federal action to compel arbitration].” GGNSC Frankfort, LLC v. Tracy, No. 14-30-GFVT, 2015 WL 1481149, at *6 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 31, 2015). Thus, ...

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