GGNSC Louisville Camelot, LLC et al v. Coppedge et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER Signed by Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell on 8/8/2017 finding as moot 5 Motion to Expedite; granting in part and denying in part 5 Motion to Compel Arbitration; granting in part and denying in part 5 Motion to Enjoin Defendants; denying 6 Motions to Dismiss; Case is stayed. cc: Counsel(KJA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CIVIL ACTION 3:16-CV-00834-TBR
GGNSC LOUISVILLE CAMELOT, LLC, et al.
JOYCE COPPEDGE, et al.
Memorandum Opinion and Order
This case requires the Court to venture into familiar territory.
On behalf of
her husband Benjamin, Joyce Coppedge signed a contract requiring Benjamin to
arbitrate all claims arising from his stay at Golden LivingCenter (GLC) Camelot, a
The Coppedges later filed suit in state court, alleging Benjamin
suffered injuries due to inadequate care. In turn, Plaintiffs filed this suit, seeking
to enforce Benjamin’s arbitration agreement and enjoin the Coppedges from further
pursing related state court litigation.
In an effort to stave off arbitration, the Coppedges raise a litany of arguments
– all of which have been previously rejected by this Court on multiple prior
This case presents no reason to depart from that precedent.
Coppedges must arbitrate their claims against these Plaintiffs, save for Joyce’s loss
of consortium claim.
For the following reasons, Defendants’ motion to dismiss [DN
6] is DENIED, and Plaintiffs’ motion to compel arbitration [DN 5] is GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART.
I. Facts and Procedural History
The facts relevant to the instant motions are undisputed.
In August 2014,
Benjamin Coppedge was admitted to GLC Camelot, a nursing home in Louisville,
Kentucky. [DN 6-2 at 1.] During his stay, the Coppedges allege Benjamin
“suffered physical and emotional injuries due to inadequate care, and his health and
physical condition deteriorated beyond that caused by the normal aging process.”
[Id. at 2.]
They filed suit in Jefferson County, Kentucky Circuit Court against
various persons and entities associated with GLC Camelot.1
That case is styled
Coppedge, et al. v. GGNSC Louisville Camelot LLC, d/b/a Golden LivingCenter –
Camelot, et al., Civil Action No. 16-CI-005560. See [DN 1-2.]
In their state suit,
the Coppedges assert various negligence and statutory claims.
Joyce also asserts a
claim for loss of spousal consortium.
Plaintiffs then filed this suit in federal court, naming the Coppedges as
defendants. See [DN 1.] They claim that a document executed by Joyce,
Benjamin’s power of attorney, requires all of the Coppedges’ claims against them be
submitted to arbitration.
That document, entitled the “Alternative Dispute
Resolution Agreement,” states that Benjamin and the nursing home “agree that any
disputes covered by this Agreement . . . that may arise between them shall be
resolved exclusively by an ADR process that shall include mediation and . . . binding
Defendants in the state action are GGNSC Louisville Camelot LLC d/b/a Golden LivingCenterCamelot; GGNSC Administrative Services, LLC; GGNSC Holdings, LLC; GGNSC Equity Holdings,
LLC; GGNSC Equity Holdings II, LLC; Golden Gate National Senior Care, LLC; Golden Gate
Ancillary, LLC; GGNSC Clinical Services, LLC; GPH Louisville Camelot, LLC; Clifton Lake, in his
capacity as Administrator of Golden LivingCenter – Camelot; Kathy Dearing, in her capacity as
Administrator of Golden LivingCenter – Camelot; and John Does 1 through 5. Lake, Dearing, and
the John Doe defendants are not parties to this suit.
[DN 1-1 at 2.]
The agreement was signed by Joyce Coppedge and a
representative of GLC Camelot.
[Id. at 5.]
In pertinent part, the agreement provides that it applies to “any and all
disputes arising out of or in any way relating to this Agreement or to the Resident’s
stay at the Facility or the Admissions Agreement between the Parties that would
constitute a legally cognizable cause of action.”
[Id. at 3.]
The first page contains
conspicuous language regarding the waiver of a right to a jury trial:
THE PARTIES UNDERSTAND, ACKNOWLEDGE, AND AGREE
THAT THEY ARE SELECTING A METHOD OF RESOLVING
DISPUTES WITHOUT RESORTING TO LAWSUITS OR THE
COURTS, AND THAT BY ENTERING INTO THIS AGREEMENT,
THEY ARE GIVING UP THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO
HAVE THEIR DISPUTES DECIDED IN A COURT OF LAW BY A
JUDGE OR JURY, THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT THEIR
CLAIMS AS A CLASS ACTION AND/OR TO APPEAL ANY
DECISION OR AWARD OF DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE
ADR PROCESS EXCEPT AS PROVIDED HEREIN.
[Id. at 2 (emphasis in original).]
Signing the agreement was not a condition of
Benjamin’s admission to GLC Camelot. [Id. at 2.]
Joyce signed the agreement on
Benjamin’s behalf pursuant to a durable power of attorney (POA). See [DN 1-3.]
Benjamin’s POA contains the following general grant of authority:
I give my attorney-in-fact the following powers:
7. AUTHORITY TO ACT-For me and in my name, place and stead, I
give and grant unto my Attorney-in-fact full power and authority to do
every act necessary, requisite, or proper to be done in and about the
premises as fully as I might or could do if personally present as she/he
may think fit.
[Id. at 2 (emphasis removed).]
After Benjamin and Joyce filed suit in Jefferson Circuit Court, Plaintiffs
initiated this action.
They seek to enforce the arbitration agreement and compel
the Coppedges’ claims against them in the state action to arbitration.
Coppedges oppose arbitration and seek dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint.
As this Court recently recognized, Defendants’ arguments are not novel.
GGNSC Louisville Mt. Holly, LLC v. Turner, No. 3:16-CV-00149-TBR, 2017 WL
537200, at *3 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 9, 2017). Rather, each argument has been raised
before, and rejected by, multiple federal district judges sitting in this
See id. (listing cases).
As more fully explained below,
Defendants’ motion to dismiss must be denied. However, under Kentucky law,
Joyce Coppedge’s loss of consortium claim belongs to her, and not to Benjamin.
Because she is not a party to the arbitration agreement, her claim – and her claim
only – against these Plaintiffs is not subject to arbitration.
A. Motion to Dismiss
The Coppedges assert several grounds for dismissal. Many of their
arguments overlap with those raised in response to Plaintiffs’ motion to compel
The Court will address the Coppedges’ jurisdictional arguments in
considering their motion to dismiss, as their arguments regarding the arbitration
agreement’s validity and enforceability are more appropriately considered as they
relate to Plaintiffs’ motion.
(1) Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
First, the Coppedges argue the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over
this action because Plaintiffs failed to join necessary parties that would destroy
Clifton Lake and Kathy Dearing, GLC Camelot’s administrators and
Kentucky residents, are both defendants in the Coppedges’ state suit.
Coppedges argue the Court should “look through” to the underlying dispute between
the parties, find Lake and Dearing owed Benjamin common-law and statutory
duties of care, and hold they are indispensable parties to this action whose joinder
would divest the Court of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
In Vaden v. Discover Bank, the Supreme Court held that in considering
petitions to compel arbitration arising under § 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act
(FAA), the district court possesses jurisdiction “only if, ‘save for’ the [arbitration
agreement], the entire, actual ‘controversy between the parties,’ as they have
framed it, could be litigated in federal court.” Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49,
However, the Court limited its holding to cases involving federal
question jurisdiction. Id. at 62.
As this Court and numerous others have held,
this “look through” doctrine does not apply when diversity of citizenship supplies
the basis for the district court’s jurisdiction. See, e.g., Northport Health Servs. of
Ark. v. Rutherford, 605 F.3d 483, 489-91 (8th Cir. 2010); GGNSC Louisville
Hillcreek, LLC v. Watkins, No. 3:15-cv-902-DJH, 2016 WL 815295, at *2 (W.D. Ky.
Feb. 29, 2016); GGNSC Frankfort, LLC v. Tracy, No. 14-30-GFVT, 2015 WL
1481149, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 31, 2015); Sun Heathcare Grp., Inc. v. Dowdy, No.
5:13-CV-0169, 2014 WL 790916, at *1 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 26, 2014).
Neither must this case be dismissed for failure to join Lake and Dearing as
The administrators’ mere presence in the state court action
does not make them indispensable here. See PaineWebber, Inc. v. Cohen, 276 F.3d
197, 203-04 (6th Cir. 2001). Further, they are not indispensable parties under
Rule 19, because here, the Court is able to “accord complete relief among [the]
existing parties,” and their interest in the case is the same interest possessed by the
Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(1)(A)-(B). This action may proceed in the
administrators’ absence. See, e.g., GGNSC Louisville St. Matthews v. Madison, No.
3:16-CV-00830-TBR, 2017 WL 2312699, at *4 (W.D. Ky. May 26, 2017); Watkins,
2016 WL 815295, at *2-3; Diversicare of Nicholasville, LLC v. Lowry, 213 F. Supp.
3d 859, 862-65 (E.D. Ky. 2016); GGNSC Louisville Hillcreek, LLC v. Warner, No.
3:13-CV-752-H, 2013 WL 6796421, at *3-4 (W.D. Ky. Dec. 19, 2013).
(2) Colorado River Abstension
The Coppedges next argue that even if the Court possesses subject-matter
jurisdiction over this action, it should abstain from exercising that jurisdiction
pursuant to Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S.
In Colorado River, the Supreme Court recognized that while “the
pendency of an action in the state court is no bar to proceedings concerning the
same matter in the Federal court,” the “general principle is to avoid duplicative
litigation” between parallel suits in federal and state court. Id. at 817.
the Court characterized this doctrine as “an extraordinary and narrow exception to
the duty of a District Court to adjudicate a controversy properly before it.”
The Sixth Circuit has set forth eight factors to be considered by the Court in
determining whether it should exercise Colorado River abstention.2
Cos., Inc. v. Simons, 288 F.3d 878, 886 (6th Cir. 2002). Other courts have
thoughtfully considered these factors in this same context, concluding they weigh
heavily against abstention. See, e.g., Madison, 2017 WL 2312699, at *4-5;
Preferred Care, Inc. v. Howell, 187 F. Supp. 3d 796, 805-07 (E.D. Ky. 2016);
Watkins, 2016 WL 815295, at *3-4; Tracy, 2015 WL 1481149, at *7-9.
Coppedges point out, the Sixth Circuit recently upheld a district court’s application
of Colorado River abstention in Preferred Care of Delaware, Inc. v. VanArsdale, 676
F. App’x 388 (6th Cir. 2017). However, in that case, the state court had already
held the arbitration agreement unenforceable by the time the federal court
addressed the matter – a circumstance not present in this case.
To the Court’s
knowledge, the Coppedges’ state suit has not progressed beyond the pleading stage.
The eight factors to be considered are
(1) whether the state court has assumed jurisdiction over any res or property; (2)
whether the federal forum is less convenient to the parties; (3) avoidance of
piecemeal litigation; . . . (4) the order in which jurisdiction was obtained[;] . . . (5)
whether the source of governing law is state or federal; (6) the adequacy of the statecourt action to protect the federal plaintiff's rights; (7) the relative progress of the
state and federal proceedings; and (8) the presence or absence of concurrent
Great Earth, 288 F.3d at 886.
The Court possesses subject-matter jurisdiction and need not abstain from
Accordingly, Defendants’ motion to dismiss [DN 6] is DENIED.
B. Motion to Compel Arbitration
Plaintiffs move to compel arbitration pursuant to § 4 of the Federal
The FAA codifies “a national policy favoring arbitration when the
parties contract for that mode of dispute resolution,” Preston v. Ferrer, 552 U.S. 346,
349 (2008), and puts arbitration agreements “upon the same footing as other
contracts,” EEOC v. Waffle House, Inc., 534 U.S. 279, 289 (2002) (quoting Gilmer v.
Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 24 (1991)).
The statute establishes a
procedural framework applicable in both federal and state courts, and also
mandates that substantive federal arbitration law be applied in both. See AlliedBruce Terminix Cos. v. Dobson, 513 U.S. 265 (1995); Southland Corp. v. Keating,
465 U.S. 1, 16 (1984).
Section 3 of the FAA permits a party seeking to enforce an arbitration
agreement to request that litigation be stayed until the terms of the arbitration
agreement have been fulfilled.
9 U.S.C. § 3.
Before compelling arbitration, the
Court “must engage in a limited review to determine whether the dispute is
arbitrable.” Masco Corp. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 382 F.3d 624, 627 (6th Cir. 2004)
(quoting Javitch v. First Union Sec., Inc., 315 F.3d 619, 624 (6th Cir. 2003)).
review requires the Court to determine first whether “a valid agreement to
arbitrate exists between the parties,” and second whether “the specific dispute falls
within the substantive scope of the agreement.” Id. (quoting Javitch, 315 F.3d at
“Because arbitration agreements are fundamentally contracts,” the Court
must “review the enforceability of an arbitration agreement according to the
applicable state law of contract formation.”
Seawright v. Am. Gen. Fin. Servs.,
Inc., 507 F.3d 967, 972 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing First Options of Chi., Inc. v. Kaplan,
514 U.S. 938, 943-44 (1995)).
(1) Interstate Commerce
The Coppedges first claim the arbitration agreement fails to satisfy the FAA’s
requirement that it evidence a transaction involving interstate commerce. 9
U.S.C. § 2. The Supreme Court has interpreted the phrase “involving commerce”
in the FAA as signaling the broadest permissible exercise of Congress’ Commerce
Clause power. Citizens Bank v. Alafabco, Inc., 539 U.S. 52, 56 (2003).
upon that interpretation, this Court has found on multiple prior occasions that
nursing home admission agreements implicate interstate commerce because the
food, medicine, and supplies used by nursing homes travel through interstate
channels. See Life Care Centers of Am., Inc. v. Estate of Neblett, No. 5:14-CV00124-TBR, 2014 WL 5439623, at *6-7 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 22, 2014); Dowdy, 2014 WL
790916, at *11-12; Warner, 2013 WL 6796421, at *7-8. The arbitration agreement
at issue in this case plainly reflects a transaction in interstate commerce.
(2) Power of Attorney
Next, the Coppedges argue the arbitration agreement is unenforceable
because Benjamin’s power of attorney did not grant Joyce the authority to enter
into such agreements on his behalf.
Their argument is based upon the Kentucky
Supreme Court’s holding in Extendicare Homes, Inc. v. Whisman, 478 S.W.3d 306,
237 (Ky. 2015), that powers of attorney must contain language specifically
authorizing the representative to waive the principal’s right to a trial by jury.
However, this Court (and others) subsequently recognized that the rule announced
in Whisman violated the FAA by singling out arbitration agreements for differential
See, e.g., Preferred Care of Delaware, Inc. v. Crocker, 173 F. Supp. 3d
505, 519-20 (W.D. Ky. 2016). The United States Supreme Court recently adopted
this view in Kindred Nursing Centers L.P. v. Clark, 581 U.S. ___ (2017).
Kindred, the Court held that “[t]he Kentucky Supreme Court’s clear-statement rule
. . . fails to put arbitration agreements on an equal plane with other contracts.”
Id., slip op. at 5.
“Such a rule,” the Court said,” is too tailor-made to arbitration
agreements . . . to survive the FAA’s edict against singling out those contracts for
Id., slip op. at 6.
Following Kindred, then, the proper inquiry is whether the grant of authority
contained in the power of attorney is “sufficiently broad to cover executing an
arbitration agreement.” Id., slip op. at 9.
Here, the POA contains a general grant
of vesting Joyce with “full power and authority to do every act necessary, requisite,
or proper” as Benjamin could do personally. [DN 1-3 at 2.] This language
unquestionably encompasses the power to enter into a contract, including an
The Coppedges next contend the arbitration agreement is procedurally and
procedural and substantive.
Procedural unconscionability “pertains to the process
by which an agreement is reached.” Conseco Fin. Serv. Corp. v. Wilder, 47 S.W.3d
335, 341 n.22 (Ky. Ct. App. 2001).
In contrast, substantive unconscionability
“refers to contractual terms that are unreasonably or grossly favorable to one side
and to which the disfavored party does not assent.” Id. (citing Harris v. Green Tree
Fin. Corp., 183 F.3d 173, 181 (3d Cir. 1999)).
The Supreme Court of Kentucky has said that “[a]dhesion contracts,”
including ones containing arbitration clauses, “are not per se improper.” Schnuerle
v. Insight Commc’ns Co., L.P., 376 S.W.3d 561, 576 (Ky. 2012).
In previous cases,
this Court has considered and rejected the same unconscionability arguments
raised by the Coppedges. See Preferred Care of Delaware, Inc. v. Hopkins, No.
5:15-CV-00191-GNS-LLK, 2016 WL 3546407, at *4-5 (W.D. Ky. 2016); Arnold v.
Owensboro Health Facilities, L.P., No. 4:15-CV-00104-JHM, 2016 WL 502601, at *45 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 8, 2016) (collecting cases).
Their arguments, at their core, “are
nothing more than objections to arbitration agreements in general, and therefore
directly contradict the policy embodied in the FAA.” Brookdale Sr. Living, Inc. v.
Stacy, 27 F. Supp. 3d 776, 788 (E.D. Ky. 2014) (emphasis in original).
arbitration agreement at issue in this case is neither procedurally nor substantively
(4) Loss of Consortium
Lastly, the Coppedges claim that Joyce’s loss of spousal consortium claim
may not be compelled to arbitration.
Under Kentucky law, a claim for loss of
consortium accrues directly to the spouse and it may be asserted directly by him or
her. KRS 411.145; Martin v. Ohio County Hosp. Corp., 295 S.W.3d 104, 108 (Ky.
Joyce Coppedge was not a party to the arbitration agreement at issue here.
Although she signed the agreement, she did so upon Benjamin’s behalf. The
agreement applies to his claims, not hers.
Joyce’s loss of consortium claim is not
subject to arbitration. See Pembroke Health Facilities, L.P. v. Ford, No. 5:16-CV00158-TBR, 2017 WL 2486354, at *6 (W.D. Ky. Jun. 8, 2017); Richmond Health
Facilities v. Nichols, 811 F.3d 192, 197-99 (6th Cir. 2016).
As explained above, all of the Coppedges’ claims against Plaintiffs are subject
to arbitration, except Joyce’s loss of consortium claim.
then, is the proper remedy.
The remaining question,
Plaintiffs seek an injunction barring Defendants from
further pursing the underlying litigation against them in Jefferson Circuit Court.
Defendants argue that the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, prohibits such an
The Coppedges also contend the arbitration agreement is unconscionable because it contains a
damages limitation, something that is prohibited under Kentucky law. [DN 6-2 at 28.] The Court
has thoroughly reviewed the agreement at issue, and is unable to find the clause to which the
Coppedges refer. See [DN 1-1.]
The Federal Arbitration Act “does not specifically authorize federal courts to
stay proceedings pending in state courts.”
Great Earth Cos., Inc. v. Simons, 288
F.3d 878, 894 (6th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). Accordingly, “the district court’s
authority to enjoin state-court proceedings is subject to the legal and equitable
standards for injunctions generally, including the Anti-Injunction Act.” Id.
turn, the Anti-Injunction Act provides, “[a] court of the United States may not grant
an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by
Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or
effectuate its judgments.”
28 U.S.C § 2283.
In Great Earth, after a trial court concluded that the parties’ dispute was
subject to arbitration, the Sixth Circuit held that “[a]n injunction of the state
proceedings [was] necessary to protect the final judgment of the district court.”
Great Earth, 288 F.3d at 894.
Such is the case here.
Having concluded that Joyce
entered into a binding arbitration agreement with GLC Camelot on Benjamin’s
behalf, the injunction Plaintiffs request “properly falls within the exception for
injunctions ‘necessary to protect or effectuate [this Court’s] judgments.’” Id.
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2283).
“Otherwise, [the Coppedges] would be permitted to
circumvent [the] arbitration agreement and in doing so, circumvent this Court’s
judgment that [they] be compelled to arbitrate [Benjamin’s] claims.”
Stacy, 27 F.
Supp. 3d at 792. This Court has often taken this same approach in the past, and it
does so again today.
See, e.g., GGNSC Louisville Mt. Holly LLC v. Stevenson, No.
3:16-CV-00423-JHM, 2016 WL 5867427, at *4 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 6, 2016); Watkins,
2016 WL 815295, at *7; Warner, 2013 WL 6796421, at *10.
Of course, Joyce
Coppedge is not enjoined from further pursuing her loss of spousal consortium
claim, because that claim is not subject to arbitration.
IV. Conclusion and Order
For the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Defendants’ motion to dismiss [DN 6] is DENIED.
Plaintiffs’ motion to
compel arbitration [DN 5] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Defendants are ENJOINED from further pursing all claims against Plaintiffs, other
than Joyce Coppedge’s loss of spousal consortium claim, in the Jefferson Circuit
Court action styled Coppedge, et al. v. GGNSC Louisville Camelot LLC, d/b/a
Golden LivingCenter – Camelot, et al., Civil Action No. 16-CI-005560.
are COMPELLED to arbitrate the claims that are subject to this injunction.
Counsel shall promptly inform the Jefferson Circuit Court of this Memorandum
Opinion and Order.
This proceeding is STAYED until the conclusion of the ordered arbitration.
The parties shall inform the Court when arbitration is complete.
August 8, 2017
CC: Counsel of Record
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