Turpin v. Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology
Turpin v. Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2021 UT App 12 (Pohlman, J.)
Torts (Medical Malpractice); Arbitration
Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Defendants (a medical facility and doctors) for their alleged negligence in failing to properly diagnose and treat her. Nearly six months later, Plaintiff moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the arbitration agreement between the parties. Defendants opposed, arguing that Plaintiff had waived her right to arbitrate because she had substantially participated in litigation. The district court disagreed and granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel arbitration. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, but on different grounds:
- The court of appeals concluded Plaintiff had substantially participated in litigation by filing the lawsuit in district court. Nonetheless, Defendants had not met their burden of proving actual prejudice as a result of Plaintiff’s delay in asserting her right to arbitrate. Accordingly, the court of appeals affirmed the grant of Plaintiff’s motion to compel arbitration.
- Note: This opinion clarifies that “when a district court denies a motion to compel arbitration based on documentary evidence alone, it is a legal conclusion that is reviewed for correctness,” without deference to the lower court. This opinion further indicates that, as a matter of law, a plaintiff’s filing of a lawsuit meets the first prong of the test as to whether she has waived the right to arbitrate. However, the second prong requires a defendant to demonstrate “real” and “actual” prejudice to establish waiver.