Judge Voids Arbitration Agreement with Nursing Home

Making the decision to place a loved one into the care of a nursing or an assisted living facility is never an easy choice to make. With reports of nursing home abuse seeming to occur with regularity, choosing a facility is of the utmost importance. One must also take into consideration any contracts that are signed in the process as well, because many of these contracts contain arbitration clauses in the case of a lawsuit being sought for abuse or neglect of patients.

In Pennsylvania, state Supreme Court judges recently voted to void nursing home arbitration agreements handled through the National Arbitration Forum code. They deemed contracts relying on this code to be unenforceable because the NAF can no longer accept arbitration cases. Attorneys believe this ruling can have a widespread impact on consumer-oriented contracts.

The decision was deeply divided, but in the end, the assenting judges agreed that contracts where arbitration was to be handled exclusively in accordance with the NAF code were rendered invalid. Stemming from a 2009 agreement between the NAF and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office where the NAF would no longer handle arbitration disputes.

This ruling will invalidate any contracts where the NAF was designated as the sole arbitrator. However, most Minnesota nursing home companies have since stopped identifying a sole arbitrator in their contracts. The larger impact of the decision, however, will still be felt in the way that form contracts are treated under Pennsylvania’s contract law.

This all stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Evonne Wert against Manorcare nursing facilities in the death of her mother. Lawyers for Wert stated that Wert failed to understand the arbitration clauses contained in the contract for care of her mother, Anna Wert, due to high emotions at the time she signed the contract.

If someone that you love is being abused or has been abused while in the care of a nursing facility, the law offices of Schenk Law can assist you. Our attorneys specialize in nursing home litigation. Contact us for a consultation.