High Court Rules on Health Care Compliance Standard

Question of first impression turned on a lack of boldface type in arbitration agreement

The Colorado Supreme Court has answered a question of first impression about arbitration agreements under the Health Care Availability Act’s compliance standard. The vehicle? A case involving a lack of boldface type.

In Colorow Health Care v. Fischer, the court ruled Section 13-64-403, governing arbitration agreements, of the HCAA requires substantial compliance rather than strict compliance in order for the agreements to be valid. Subsection 4 requires arbitration agreements to contain a four-paragraph notice in boldface type and at least 10-point font. Its purpose is to make patients understand entering the agreements is voluntary.

In the underlying case, Roger and Amy Fischer filed a wrongful death claim in Montrose County for the death of their mother and grandmother, Charlotte Fischer, in a health care facility operated by Colorow Health Care after she was assaulted by an employee. Charlotte’s daughter, Judith Cooper, had signed admissions paperwork on Charlotte’s behalf, including an agreement compelling arbitration for any dispute related to Charlotte’s relationship with the health care facility. When filing the wrongful death claim in court, the Fischers claimed the arbitration agreement’s lack of required language in boldface type invalidated it.

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