The facts of the case of Elizabeth Holley and the Newport Mesa Memory Care Community in Costa Mesa, CA do not seem to be in dispute, according to McKnight’s Senior Living. On Nov 1, 2017, Ms. Holley, who suffered from dementia and a number of other health issues, moved into the memory care center. Three days later she was transferred to Hoag Hospital, having suffered a humeral fracture, a hip fracture, and numerous bruises. Holley underwent surgery on Nov 10, 2017. However, she passed away on February 10, 2018.
Elizabeth Holley’s adult children, Diane and James Holley, filed suit against Silverado, an Irving, CA-based company that managed the memory center. They alleged elder abuse and neglect, negligence, breach of contract and wrongful death. They also alleged that their mother received substandard treatment at the memory center, leading to the injuries that eventually took her life. The suit was filed on Jan 22, 2019. Silverado filed a motion in October 2019 seeking to enforce arbitration, based on Diane Holley’s signature on a form agreeing to it in the event of her mother’s death when Elizabeth Holley was first admitted to the memory center.
Diane Holley claimed that she signed the form because of a “sense of urgency” to get her mother the care she needed. A danger existed that if she had not signed the forms and written the check, her mother might have been put on a waiting list since beds at the facility were in short supply. No one explained to her what the implications of the agreement were.
The Orange County Superior Court ruled against the arbitration on the grounds that Elizabeth Holley’s children did not have the legal authority to sign such an agreement. On Aug 7, 2020, the California 4th District appellate court upheld the lower court ruling.
At last report, Silverado is considering an appeal to the California Supreme Court to try to reverse the lower courts’ ruling and thus enforce the arbitration agreement, avoiding the expense of a trial and a legal judgment.
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