Bifurcation in nursing home cases argued before Justices

April 5, 2016 – Media Mention
The Legal Intelligencer

Wilkes & McHugh,P.A. attorney Stephen Trzcinski argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Pittsburgh in April in a case that could determine how nursing home wrongful death and survival lawsuits will proceed. The Federal Arbitration Act mandates that claims be arbitrated in accordance with signed arbitration agreements. The defense argued this mandate overrides any concerns about piecemeal litigation. But Trzcinski countered that "states have a compelling interest in being able to control their own proceedings. Bifurcating wrongful-death and survival claims to send the survival claim to arbitration, Trzcinski argued, would 'directly contradict the main purpose' of the nursing home agreement Taylor signed, which is to promptly and efficiently resolve all disputes."

The case in question is Taylor v. Extendicare. The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the wrongful death and survival claims should be combined to streamline the case and expedite results, but Extendicare objected, arguing that because the family signed an arbitration agreement, the claims should be sent to binding arbitration.

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