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FL: court vacated arbitration award for doctor: on Certiorari--court held error in vacating award.

CASE FACTS: When Susan Mock sought medical treatment in July 2006. with Dr. T. Steven Felger, and North Florida Surgeons, P.A. (Surgeons), she signed a document entitled "North Florida Surgeons Financial Agreement." It provided that any negligence claim relating to her diagnosis, treatment, or care would be resolved by binding arbitration pursuant to the Florida Arbitration Code. Susan filed a complaint in Circuit Court alleging medical negligence against (Surgeons). Surgeons filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the Agreement. A three member arbitration panel heard the merits of Susan's claim and found in for Surgeons. The arbitration award recited that "[a]ccording to the evidence presented, none of the witnesses could say with certainty how the injury occurred." Susan asked the trial court to vacate the arbitration award and order a rehearing before another arbitration panel. Surgeons requested the court to confirm the arbitration award. The trial court granted Susan's motion to vacate the arbitration award and ordered that the dispute be submitted to another arbitration panel for a second arbitration. The trial court ruled that the arbitration panel had "gone beyond the scope of its powers under the arbitration agreement," by modifying the burden of proof so that "it would be almost impossible to recover any damages." Surgeons petitioned for Certiorari.

COURT'S OPINION: The Florida Court of Appeals granted Certiorari, quashed the order that vacated the arbitration award, and remanded the case for another round of arbitration. The court held, inter alia, that Surgeons had clearly shown that the order of the lower court represented a departure from the essential requirements of law: that the only grounds upon which an arbitration award in a statutory arbitration may be vacated was: (a) the award was procured by corruption, fraud or other undue means: (b) there was evident partiality by an arbitrator appointed as a neutral, or corruption in any of the arbitrators, or misconduct prejudicing the rights of any party; (c) the arbitrators exceeded their powers; (d) the arbitrators refused to postpone the hearing when sufficient cause was shown, refused to hear evidence material to the controversy, or conducted the hearing contrary to the provisions of applicable law (regarding notice and entitlement to present evidence); or (e) there was no agreement or provision for arbitration. In the absence of one of these five factors, neither the trial court nor the court rendering this decision has the authority to overturn the arbitration award. A dissenting judge suggested that an argument could be made that an order which vacates an arbitration award and remands a case for a rehearing before a new arbitration panel is an order that determines the entitlement of a party to arbitration, Felger v.Mark, IDI0-3355 FLCA1 (7/26/2011)-FL

Meet the Editor & Publisher: A. David Tammelleo. JD. is a nationally recognized authority on health care law Practicing law for over 40 years. he concentrates in health care law with the Rhode Island firm of A. David Tammelleo & Associates He has presented seminars on medical, nursing and hospital law throughout the United States In addition to his writings as Editor of Medual Law 's. Nursing Law's & Hospital Law's Regan Reports, his legal articles have been published in the most prestigious health law journals A prolific writer, his thousands of articles, as well as his achievements as an attorney and lecturer, have won him recognition in Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register of Preeminent lawyers. Marquis Who's Who in American Law. Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World

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Title Annotation:Medical Law Cases of Note
Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Publication:Medical Law's Regan Report
Article Type:Case overview
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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