Henry Woodall died in the care of Avalon Care Center of Federal Way. His heirs sought to bring a wrongful death and survival action against Avalon. Mr. Woodall had signed an agreement with Avalon, which required any action for personal injuries or medical negligence to be heard by an arbitrator.
The trial court had determined that even though it would require a claim arising out of the same set of underlying facts to be split, the survival action was subject to arbitration while the wrongful death action was not. The Court of Appeals held that because the heirs were the parties to the wrongful death action, they were not bound by the arbitration clause.
Note to practitioners: Courts like alternative dispute resolution, but look closely at agreements that appear to be one-sided or that deprive people of rights they might otherwise have.