In a case where evidentiary facts are not in dispute but different inferences may be drawn from the facts, summary judgment is not appropriate.
Following an automobile accident, Case began chiropractic treatment with Dr. Gerimonte. After her first treatment, Dr. Gerimonte’s office had Case sign an “Assignment” that assigned her rights to payment on a policy of insurance written by Farmers Insurance Company to Gerimonte. If Farmers failed to pay for Gerimonte’s services, Case would pay. Case told Gerimonte that she objected to signing becase she would be unable to pay the balance if Farmers could not pay. Gerimonte said that she did not need to worry because the insurance company would take care of her. Case signed the document and, after a series of treatments, Farmers only paid a minority portion of the final bill. Case, unable to pay, was sued by Gerimonte for the remaining balance.
Despite Case’s affirmative defense of undue influence, the trial court found for Gerimonte on motion for summary judgment. An appeal followed.
Can undue influence invalidate a written agreement between a patient and doctor?
Summary judgment for Dr. Gerimonte was not appropriate. Since Case, the nonmoving party, is entitled to all favorable inferences and Gerimonte failed to demonstrate the nonexistence of undue influence, the trial court erred in granting the motion for summary judgment.