In Bernstein v. Wysoki, the parents of a 13-year old boy entered into a contract with a summer camp program, which authorized the camp to make decisions regarding any necessary medical treatment required by their son during his stay at the camp. The contract further included a forum selection clause that chose Wayne County, Pennsylvania as the venue for any disputes that might arise between the parties.
During the plaintiff’s stay at the camp, he became ill and was treated by the camp doctor. He was subsequently taken to a nearby hospital in Broome County, New York, where he sustained injuries as a result of a misdiagnosis.
The plaintiffs filed their medical malpractice suit in Nassau County, New York, against the camp, the camp doctor and the hospital. The defendants brought a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the forum selection clause was applicable and valid.
The Second Department granted the defendants’ motion as it pertained to the camp and the camp doctor. The court reasoned that the forum selection clause applied to all disputes that arose between the parties and the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that a trial in Pennsylvania would be so gravely difficult that the plaintiffs would be denied their day in court.
However, the court denied the hospital’s motion, finding that there was no indication in the contract that the camp intended to use this particular hospital in emergency cases and, therefore, the hospital lacked a sufficiently close relationship with the camp such that enforcement of the clause would be foreseeable to the plaintiffs.
Thanks to Georgia Stagias for her contribution to this post.