A Break Through in Forced Arbitration
Until recently many abused nursing home patients have been unable to pursue legal action against their abusers due clauses hidden within nursing home contracts (forced arbitration clauses).
Forced arbitration essentially protects nursing home staff and administration from being sued in a court of law. When situations like abuse and/or neglect occur and the resident or their family decides to take legal action, instead of doing so in a court of law they are forced to deal with arbitrators hired by the nursing home. The arbitrator reviews the claim and very seldom does the victim achieve justice.
Technically, forced arbitration clauses are binding and those who unknowingly or unintentionally sign a contract including such a clause have limited options in regards to pursuing legal action in the event abuse or neglect occurs.
However a recent court case could change all of that. A New Jersey man didn’t realize that upon admitting his sister into a nursing home the contract he signed contained the dreaded forced arbitration clause.
Sadly, according to the evidence presented in his case, his elderly sister sustained abuse on multiple occasions and in more than one facility. After suffering a serious fall she was found on the floor, covered in blood and completely dehydrated (indications she had been on the ground for an extended amount of time). She was later moved to another facility where she suffered bed sores (one of the most evident signs of neglect).
In both instances it’s clear that there was some degree of abuse/neglect, but like many others in this type of situation, options for pursuing a case were limited. The man continued to push the court to hear his case, and eventually was successful:
“… last month, a New Jersey appeals court ruled that Kleine (the injured patient) and her attorney could take CareOne (one of the nursing home facilities) to trial. The New Jersey Appellate Division found that CareOne’s arbitration clause was unenforceable, and “other aspects of the clause suggest it may be unconscionable.” Read more here.
Click here to contact a member of our dedicated nursing home abuse and neglect attorney group.