An elderly California woman, Marjorie Fitzpatrick, was signed into a nursing home by her daughter in 2012. The next year Marjorie was left outside without supervision. She fell and suffered injuries, which later led to her death.
Her estate filed a wrongful death suit against the facility.
However, the contract with the facility contained an arbitration clause which the nursing home attempted to enforce. They claimed that the daughter who filed the suit on behalf of the estate was bound by the clause. An appellate court in California disagreed and ruled that the clause was not binding on the daughter as she was suing not on her own behalf, but on behalf of the estate and the other children.
The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog reported on this case in "New Case On Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements In California."
This is good news for the elderly.
All too often nursing home arbitration clauses act as barriers to relief from nursing home neglect and abuse. Elder law attorneys have noticed a sharp increase in the clauses being inserted into contracts. It can be more difficult for people to press claims and receive full compensation for injuries in arbitration than in court.
Before signing a contract with a nursing home, it is a good idea to have an elder law attorney look over the contract. The attorney can review it for arbitration clauses or any other problematic clauses that should be negotiated with the facility.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Feb. 8, 2016) "New Case On Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements In California."