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Supreme Court Rules on Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What information will be helpful for my nursing home negligence claim?”

 

The United States Supreme Court has ruled on a case that could affect nursing home claims all across the country. In Kindred Nursing Centers, L.P. v. Clark, the court reversed a lower court decision that rejected an arbitration agreement between the nursing home and the residents of the nursing home.

 

nursing-home-Charlotte-Lake-Norman-Monroe-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-300x213Two residents of a nursing home each had their power of attorney residing with a relative. The family members with the power of attorney signed arbitration agreements with the nursing home when their relatives became residents of the nursing home. Unfortunately, both residents died at the nursing home and the families alleged that the nursing home was negligent in caring for the residents. Because of the arbitration agreement, the nursing home claimed that the family members had already agreed to settle the claim through arbitration.

 

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that a family member could not enter into an arbitration agreement with the nursing home on behalf of the residents. The court stated that the residents of the nursing home had not given their family members express permission to enter into an arbitration agreement. Kentucky law requires a “clear statement” from the residents in order for permission to be granted. In order for a person to waive the Constitutional right to trial, it must be done so specifically. This could be on behalf of themselves, or with express permission given to the power of attorney.

 

The Supreme Court reversed this decision because the clear statement rule violates the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The FAA is designed to uphold arbitration agreements between parties that consent to the agreements. According to the Court, the violation of the FAA comes from the clear statement rule discriminating only against arbitration agreements. There cannot be special rules for contracts that only exist when there is an arbitration agreement at issue.

 

What Does This Mean?

 

The effect of this ruling could be felt nationwide. This could decrease the number of nursing home abuse cases that are filed across the country by forcing a plaintiff to only be able to go through arbitration. However, there still needs to be a consent from the resident of the nursing home to allow another to sign the agreement on his or her behalf.

 

While this case seemingly validates arbitration agreements between nursing homes and residents, it only does so in the context of discrimination from the FAA. The Court reversed the Kentucky court’s decision because the law singled out the arbitration agreement and that was discrimination. Arbitration agreements could still be invalid if they were entered into through other contract defenses like duress, lack of capacity, or even misrepresentation.

 

If you believe that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse and/or neglect, you should consult with an attorney. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC will help you explore your legal options. This Supreme Court ruling has the potential of a nationwide shift in nursing home abuse court cases, but do not let that discourage you. Your loved on deserves the best care at a nursing home. Now taking cases throughout the Charlotte region with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and the new location under renovation in Monroe. Contact us, Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call us at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

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The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.

 

Source:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-32_o7jp.pdf

https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_1/Article_45C.html

 

 

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