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 room-and-board contracts.
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, LLC for trustworthy legal advocacy from our Columbus nursing home abuse lawyers.