For more than a decade, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have
been using mandatory arbitration clauses to hide potential lawsuits behind
closed doors. Rather than allowing a dispute to go before a court judge
or jury, arbitration states that legal disputes must be done privately,
most often in a lawyer’s office, and for an undisclosed settlement.
It is believed that around 1.5 million elders in nursing homes around
the country were required to sign arbitration clauses as part of their
A child agency of the Health and Human Services Department (HHSD) has recognized
the potential for dishonest inherent in arbitration and has all but done
away with them entirely. The new ruling states that if a nursing home
receives any sort of federal funding, it cannot force elderly residents
or their families into arbitration should a lawsuit arise. If no successful
appeals are accomplished, the mandate will go into effect in November
2016; it is not retroactive and will only affect future cases.
Misinformation & Unsafe Practices
Arbitration has come to light several times in recent years. In each incident,
it has been recognized as an easy way for companies or corporations to
choose what they want to disclose to the public and what they would ride
brush under the rug. Back in May, credit card companies were slammed by
new legislation that largely banned them from forcing customers into arbitration
when a full-scale class action would work better.
Since it can be assumed that many arbitration cases involving nursing homes
were centered on
nursing home abuse allegations, countless new residents could have agreed to stay at a home
with a dangerous history without ever knowing it. Concern regarding this
potential practice hit a high point after the District of Columbia and
16 states came together to push for the ruling.
Advocates and representatives of nursing homes have cried foul over the
agency’s decision. Many claim that arbitration helps reduce legal
costs for nursing homes and their residents alike. The claim is unsubstantiated,
however, due to the fact that the vast majority of arbitration results
are hidden away from the public, meaning there is no available information
to compare-contrast for actual cost-saving efficiency.
For more information regarding the new decision, you can view an article from
The New York Times by
clicking here. If you need to create a lawsuit of your own after your elderly loved
one was abused in a nursing home, you can
contact Rourke and Blumenthal for trustworthy legal advocacy from our Columbus
nursing home abuse lawyers.