Business Law and Ethics

During a prenatal appointment for her high-risk pregnancy, Monica Moore was told to complete a series of forms related to medical treatment, privacy rights, and payment of services. Neither the office receptionist who gave her the forms nor her OBGYN specialist physician (to whom she had been referred) brought her attention to the fact that among the forms she was signing was also included a four-page long arbitration agreement. The title of the top page, however, was in boldface type and capitalized letters: “ARBITRATION AGREEMENT FOR CLAIMS ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO MEDICAL CARE AND TREATMENT.” The arbitration agreement purported to be binding on Monica, her husband, and their unborn child; required that all future claims against any medical provider in the practice would be arbitrated (if the medical provider elected to be involved in arbitration); stated that Monica’s, her husband’s, and her unborn child’s constitutional rights to jury trial or trial by judge were being waived; noted that the patient acknowledged her right to consult with an attorney prior to signing the contract; and provided Monica with 15 days in which to rescind the agreement after she signed it, although she was not provided with a copy of the arbitration agreement. Monica later filed a medical malpractice action in state court, and the trial judge granted the defendant medical provider’s motion to compel arbitration. Monica appealed on the grounds that the arbitration agreement is a contract of adhesion with both procedural and substantive unconscionability.

Is this arbitration agreement enforceable?

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