The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Thursday vacated a lower court’s decision to send to arbitration a wrongful death claim against Timber Ridge Health Care Center.
Sixty-six-year-old Valerie Holminski died at Timber Ridge in 2012, and the family holds the skilled nursing facility responsible.
According to court records, Holminski was mentally disabled and “was subject to cyclical psychotic mental breakdowns and periodic hospitalization.” Therefore, her family claims, she was not competent to sign the arbitration agreement when she entered the facility in 2008. Timber Ridge maintains that on the day Holminski entered the facility, she “was calm, coherent, and understood what she was doing.”
The Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, sided with the SNF and sent the case for arbitration. In Thursday’s ruling, however, the Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated the order referring the survival action to arbitration and remand the case back to the trial court.
“Upon remand, the court shall allow the parties to engage in discovery on the issue of decedent’s competency to execute the agreement and, if necessary, hold a hearing,” the court’s prothonotary wrote in the judgment.