The fight to preserve everyone’s ability to make a case in front of a judge or jury continues. In the nursing home context, following elder abuse or neglect, one of the biggest impediments to that right is the use of confusing and unfair mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home admission contracts.
There have been many legal battles over this issue in recent years. Some of those arguments occur in courtrooms while others are taking place in legislative halls. The recent court battles usually involve more detailed issues about contract principles–who signed, who is bound, and whether or not many factors in the creation of the contract violated fairness principles. In general, state and federal courts have upheld these agreements on occasion but also found that under certain circumstances they can be thrown out.
The fight at the legislative level is usually more sweeping, involving proposed laws that would affect many different cases. For example, this week a new federal law was proposed in Congress known as the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013. As discussed by the American Association for Justice, the new law seeks to end the abusive practice of so many large corporations, including nursing home conglomerates, that seek to insulate themselves from legal accountability with forced arbitration. As the AAJ summarized, the law is critically needed, because when it comes to arbitration, “The process is secretive, costly and rigged so that corporations cannot be held accountable. By removing access to justice, it grants corporations a license to steal and violate the law.”