Articles Posted in Binding Arbitration

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The American Association for Justice released a comprehensive new report entitled, “Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans.” Today we will consider one of the ways in which nursing home conglomerates attempt to legally handcuff the residents in their care-forced arbitration clauses.

Most nursing home residents and their families are unaware of what it means to sign a forced arbitration clause. As part of the process to move into a facility, seniors sign many different documents. Typically, one of those documents includes a few lines that are buried in the fine print that bind the resident to “forced arbitration.” While it may not seem too important at the time, this clause often has a big impact on the rights of those injured while at a nursing home.

Nursing home administrators attempt to get residents to sign these clauses so that the nursing home will be in a superior legal position if there is ever a problem with resident care.

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An attorney for an elderly stroke victim urged a state’s Supreme Court to let her take her fraud claims against a nursing home to trial, rather than to arbitration as the health care facility is demanding. A circuit court judge ruled that the victim could not be forced to arbitrate her claims, but his decision was recently overturned by the court of appeals. The woman suffered a stroke in September 2005 and states that the nursing home delayed filing her Medicaid application so it could continue charging her a higher daily rate for several months. The delay eventually cost her more than $70,000. She also alleged that a nursing home employee put her in touch with people who tried to buy her home for far less than its value. Currently, Illinois is trying to pass legislation that bans binding arbitration in nursing home contracts. Binding arbitration clauses compel unwary purchasers into forfeiting their right to their day in court. To read more about the binding arbitration clause, please click the link.

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Lawmakers and consumers testified before a House subcommittee, calling for new legislation restricting the ability of companies to force customers into mandatory binding arbitration when disputes arise. The new legislation will help protect elderly access to the courts in cases against nursing homes. Congress is considering two different pieces of legislation that would restrict forced arbitration clauses contained in many of the nursing home contracts residents must sign in order to register. Congressman Henry Johnson has introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act, which will prevent all pre-dispute arbitration clauses could be considered “forced” due to economic and social needs. Representative Linda Sanchez has introduced the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009, which would nullify any clauses contained in admission agreements that prevent residents or family members from filing a nursing home negligence lawsuit. The problem is that arbitration clauses have become de facto mandatory in many nursing homes. Desperate families oftentimes sign anything in order to receive proper care for their loved one. Contact your Congressman today in order to support the nursing home legislation. To read more about the nursing home legislation, please click the link.

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Nursing Home Residents are often asked to signed nursing home contracts that contain mandatory arbitration clauses. When a person signs an arbitration clause they are unable to sue the nursing home even if they are a victim of nursing home abuse. Residents are oftentimes very nervous and busy when they enter a nursing home, and do not have the proper time to review each individual aspect of the contract. Forced arbitration clauses are buried into the fine print of contracts and terms of agreements of the nursing home. However, there is hopeful legislation pending in Congress that will allow victims of nursing home abuse to be able to sue their nursing home. The Arbitration Fairness Act would disallow employers and companies from using forced arbitration in civil rights, employment, consumer or franchise disputes. Ask the members of Congress to support the Arbitration Fairness Act, which will end the practice of forcing employees and consumers to sign away their rights to legal protections and access to courts. To sign the petition today, please click the link.

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Binding arbitration clauses are becoming increasingly more common in society, especially in nursing homes. Many nursing home lawyers are finding that nursing home residents and their families are being faced with mandatory arbitration clauses when they try to take the corporations to court. Unfortunately many residents and their families sign binding arbitration clauses without realizing it, and it is not until nursing home abuse or negligence occurs that the issue is ever raised. Many lawyers find it very difficult to get residents out of binding arbitration agreements. The problem is that residents are not required to accept binding arbitration to be admitted to a nursing home. However, once someone agrees to the terms, any claims, no matter how simple or complicated, are subject to arbitration. This could be alleviated with the passage of the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act, which provides that a pre-dispute arbitration agreement between a long-term care facility and a resident shall not be valid or specifically enforceable. If this bill passes many people that it will ensure that arbitration is voluntary and not coerced to resolve disputes. It will enable those who have received gross negligence at the hands of the nursing home industry to have their day in court. Please contact your congressmen, and voice your support for the nursing home legislation. To read more about the binding arbitration, please click the link.