MARMET HEALTH CARE CENTER v. BROWN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
11-391
Petitioner 
Clayton Brown on behalf of Clayton Brown
Respondent 
Marmet Health Care Center
Consolidation 
11-394, Clarksburg Nursing Home & Rehabilitation Center v. Marchio
Decided By 
Term:
Facts of the Case 

These are two consolidated case involving negligence suits against nursing homes in West Virginia. In both cases, the children of nursing home patients signed an agreement with the nursing home requiring arbitration for any disputes. In both cases, the patients died under the nursing homes' care and the children sued in state court for negligence. The trial court dismissed both suits because of the arbitration agreements. The Supreme Court of West Virginia reversed, holding that the forcing arbitration for personal injury and wrongful death cases violated public policy. The court also held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) did not preempt state public policy despite recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent to the contrary.

Question 

Did the state court err when it held that the arbitration clauses were invalid due to public policy?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Marmet Health Care Center, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Federal Arbitration Act

Yes. In a per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court vacated the prior judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The Court held that the West Virginia court interpreted the FAA incorrectly. The FAA requires a court to enforce agreements parties make to arbitrate, and contains no exception for personal injury or wrongful death claims. On remand, the West Virginia Court must consider whether state common law principles, which are not preempted by the FAA, make the arbitration agreements unenforceable. The court may not consider general public policy.

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MARMET HEALTH CARE CENTER v. BROWN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2011/2011_11_391>.
MARMET HEALTH CARE CENTER v. BROWN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2011/2011_11_391 (last visited October 23, 2014).
"MARMET HEALTH CARE CENTER v. BROWN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2011/2011_11_391.