Jupiter Med. Ctr. Inc. v. Visiting Nurse Ass'n of Fla. Inc., No. 4D10–1803.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtTHORNTON, JOHN W., JR., Associate Judge.
Citation72 So.3d 184
PartiesJUPITER MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Appellant,v.VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION OF FLORIDA, INC., Appellee.
Decision Date10 November 2011
Docket NumberNo. 4D10–1803.

72 So.3d 184

JUPITER MEDICAL CENTER, INC., Appellant,
v.
VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION OF FLORIDA, INC., Appellee.

No. 4D10–1803.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District.

Sept. 14, 2011.Rehearing Denied Nov. 10, 2011.


[72 So.3d 185]

Michael G. Austin and Matthew D. Grosack of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Miami, for appellant.David B. Earle of Ross Earle & Bonan, P.A., Stuart, for appellee.THORNTON, JOHN W., JR., Associate Judge.

Appellant brought the action below to vacate an arbitral award on the ground that it was based on an illegal contract. Appellee filed both a motion to dismiss and a motion to enforce the award. The trial court did not address the issue of the contract's legality, dismissed Appellant's action and entered an order enforcing the arbitral award. Because a Florida court cannot enforce an illegal contract, we reverse and remand for the trial court to consider the legality of the contract.

Appellee Visiting Nurse Association of Florida, Inc. (“VNA”), a home health care agency, bought community hospital Appellant Jupiter Medical Center, Inc. (“JMC”)'s home health care agency business. VNA paid $639,000 to JMC based upon an agreed appraisal. VNA purchased the business pursuant to a Home Health Care Agreement, which contained a broad arbitration provision.

VNA believed that JMC was not performing its contract obligations and filed an arbitration claim for breach of contract with the American Arbitration Association. The arbitration panel found that JMC breached the contract and awarded VNA $1,251,213 in damages.

JMC filed with the arbitrators a motion to re-open, arguing that the contract, as construed by the arbitrators, violated state and federal laws prohibiting medical care providers from accepting payment in return for home care patient referrals. JMC's motion to re-open the arbitration was denied. JMC then filed a petition with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeking to vacate the award. The court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. JMC then filed the motion to vacate with the Palm Beach County Circuit Court. In response, VNA filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to enforce the arbitration award.

The trial court refused to reach the question of whether the contract was legal. The court denied JMC's motion to vacate and entered final judgment on the arbitration award in favor of VNA. JMC appeals.

The sole issue before this court is whether the trial court erred in not considering the contract's legality before ordering enforcement of the arbitral award. JMC argues that Florida courts should not enforce an arbitrator's award based on an illegal contract and therefore the trial court erred in...

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3 practice notes
  • Wright v. City of Gary, No. 45A04–1107–PL–362.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • March 15, 2012
    ...recognized this distinction in two cases I believe to be on point. See Jupiter Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Visiting Nurse Ass'n of Florida, Inc., 72 So.3d 184, 186 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.2011), reh'g denied (Nov. 10, 2011) (“If the contract is found to be illegal, a prior arbitration will not prevent the ......
  • Vill. At Dolphin Commerce Ctr., LLC v. Constr. Serv. Solutions, LLC, No. 3D13–1499.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • July 17, 2014
    ...proceedings as none was made. 4. We acknowledge that in Jupiter Medical Center, Inc. v. Visiting Nurse Association of Florida, Inc., 72 So.3d 184 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) the Fourth District stated: “If [a] contract is found to be illegal, a prior arbitration will not prevent the trial court fro......
  • Vill. At Dolphin Commerce Ctr., LLC v. Constr. Serv. Solutions, LLC, No. 3D13-1499
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 21, 2014
    ...proceedings as none was made. 4. We acknowledge that in Jupiter Medical Center, Inc. v. Visiting Nurse Association of Florida, Inc., 72 So. 3d 184 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) the Fourth District stated: "If [a] contract is found to be illegal, a prior arbitration will not prevent the trial cou......
3 cases
  • Wright v. City of Gary, No. 45A04–1107–PL–362.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • March 15, 2012
    ...recognized this distinction in two cases I believe to be on point. See Jupiter Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Visiting Nurse Ass'n of Florida, Inc., 72 So.3d 184, 186 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.2011), reh'g denied (Nov. 10, 2011) (“If the contract is found to be illegal, a prior arbitration will not prevent the ......
  • Vill. At Dolphin Commerce Ctr., LLC v. Constr. Serv. Solutions, LLC, No. 3D13–1499.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • July 17, 2014
    ...proceedings as none was made. 4. We acknowledge that in Jupiter Medical Center, Inc. v. Visiting Nurse Association of Florida, Inc., 72 So.3d 184 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) the Fourth District stated: “If [a] contract is found to be illegal, a prior arbitration will not prevent the trial court fro......
  • Vill. At Dolphin Commerce Ctr., LLC v. Constr. Serv. Solutions, LLC, No. 3D13-1499
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 21, 2014
    ...proceedings as none was made. 4. We acknowledge that in Jupiter Medical Center, Inc. v. Visiting Nurse Association of Florida, Inc., 72 So. 3d 184 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) the Fourth District stated: "If [a] contract is found to be illegal, a prior arbitration will not prevent the trial cou......

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