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Broemmer v. Abortion Servs.

Supreme Court of Arizona

October 13, 1992

No. CV-91-0322-PR


 [**1014]  [*149]   STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Melinda Kay Broemmer (plaintiff) asks this court to review a court [***2]  of appeals opinion that held that an "Agreement to Arbitrate" which she signed prior to undergoing a clinical abortion is an enforceable, albeit an adhesive, contract. Broemmer v. Otto, 169 Ariz. 543, 821 P.2d 204 (1991). The opinion affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Abortion Services of Phoenix and Dr. Otto (defendants). Because we hold the agreement to arbitrate is unenforceable as against plaintiff, we reverse the trial court and vacate in part the court of appeals opinion. We have jurisdiction pursuant to Ariz. Const. art. 6, § 5(3) and A.R.S. § 12-120.24.


In December 1986, plaintiff, an Iowa resident, was 21 years old, unmarried, and 16 or 17 weeks pregnant. She was a high school graduate earning less than $ 100.00 a week and had no medical benefits. The father-to-be insisted that plaintiff have an abortion, but her parents advised against it. Plaintiff's uncontested affidavit describes the time as one of considerable confusion and emotional and physical turmoil for her.

Plaintiff's mother contacted Abortion Services of Phoenix and made an appointment for her daughter for December 29, 1986. During their [***3]  visit to the clinic that day, plaintiff and her mother expected, but did not receive, information and counselling on alternatives to abortion and the nature of the operation. When plaintiff and her mother arrived at the clinic, plaintiff was escorted into an adjoining room and asked to complete three forms, one of which is the agreement to arbitrate at issue in this case. The agreement to arbitrate included language that "any dispute aris[ing] between the Parties as a result of the fees and/or services" would be settled by binding arbitration and that "any arbitrators appointed by the AAA [American Arbitration Association] shall be licensed medical doctors who specialize in obstetrics/gynecology."  [*150]   [**1015]  The two other documents plaintiff completed at the same time were a 2-page consent-to-operate form and a questionnaire asking for a detailed medical history. Plaintiff completed all three forms in less than 5 minutes and returned them to the front desk. Clinic staff made no attempt to explain the agreement to plaintiff before or after she signed, and did not provide plaintiff with copies of the forms.

After plaintiff returned the forms to the front desk, she was taken [***4]  into an examination room where pre-operation procedures were performed. She was then instructed to return at 7:00 a.m. the next morning for the termination procedure. Plaintiff returned the following day and Doctor Otto performed the abortion. As a result of the procedure, plaintiff suffered a punctured uterus that required medical treatment.

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173 Ariz. 148 *; 840 P.2d 1013 **; 1992 Ariz. LEXIS 86 ***; 24 A.L.R.5th 793; 126 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 3

Melinda Kay BROEMMER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ABORTION SERVICES OF PHOENIX, LTD., an Arizona corporation, Defendant-Appellee

Subsequent History:  [***1]  Reconsideration Denied December 1, 1992.

Prior History: Court of Appeals No. 1 CA-CV 89-249. Maricopa County No. CV 88-15368. Appeal from the Superior Court of Maricopa County. The Honorable Robert W. Pickrell, Judge (Retired). Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division One, 169 Ariz. 543, 821 P.2d 204 (1991), VACATED IN PART; APPROVED IN PART



arbitration, adhesion, clinic, malpractice, negotiated, unconscionable, unenforceable, undisputed, abortion, patient, appointed, waived

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