Contact: Amaya Smith
Washington, DC—Recent news stories have highlighted the problems with mandatory binding arbitration in credit card contracts but even more egregious is the increasing use of mandatory arbitration in nursing home contracts. These clauses force families to take their case to an arbitrator even when a loved one is seriously injured or dies.
Nursing home corporations that slip arbitration clauses into the fine print of admission agreements frequently fail to explain the clauses and force residents to sign in order to be admitted into the facility. The decision to place a family member in a nursing facility is a difficult and sometimes urgent choice. These agreements prey on families when they are most vulnerable.
When Linda Stewart, a registered nurse from Houston, Texas, placed her grandmother in a nursing home she never anticipated that a corporation would take away her right to get justice. Ms. Stewart filed a claim after the nursing home failed to care for her grandmother's broken leg which led to the leg being amputated. When Ms. Stewart's sister initially had their grandmother admitted into the facility she was given no explanation of the contract which included a mandatory arbitration clause. After the claim was filed the nursing home tried to force the Stewarts into arbitration. Ms. Stewart agreed to settle after the nursing home vowed to take the case all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.
The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act would protect families from mandatory arbitration by ensuring that arbitration is voluntary and agreements occur only after a dispute has occurred.
"Negligent nursing home corporations should not be able to hide behind arbitration clauses to avoid being held accountable for wrongdoing," said American Association for Justice member Ken Connor. "Corporations who use and enforce these agreements are putting their profit margins above the health and safety of America's seniors."