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Shayna Slater
Shayna Slater
Attorney • (215) 735-0773

Mandatory Arbitration Clauses: A Nursing Home’s Sneaky Secret

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How many times have you been handed a stack of paperwork and because you are in a hurry or simply do not have the time to read every word, you simply sign all the necessary pages without a thorough review? Now add into that scenario that either you or a loved one is being admitted into a nursing home. In order to gain admittance, you must sign a large stack of admission paperwork. It is unlikely that in this moment anyone is thoroughly reading the paperwork. Even assuming that you do read the paperwork carefully and you disagree with some of the documents, it is not a negotiation. Often times, you either sign the paperwork or you are not able to be admitted into the nursing home.

So, what is often included in that paperwork? The answer is: A Mandatory Arbitration Clause. The required paperwork to gain admittance into the nursing home often contains a mandatory arbitration clause which requires yourself or anyone on your behalf to settle any/all disputes that you have with the nursing home or its staff through the Arbitration process. Residents unknowingly sign these clauses which results in their right to a trial being extinguished. Nursing homes promise that your loved one will receive excellent care while at the same time making you sign a piece of paper that says if your loved one’s care is improper that you do not have the right to sue them in a court of law. Does that seem contradictory to anyone else?

However, their may be a light at the end of this tunnel. On May 12, 2011, Senator Al Franken, along with twelve (12) co-sponsors, introduced the Arbitration Act of 2011. The proposed Arbitration Fairness Act would ban mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in employment, consumer and civil rights cases. If the Arbitration Act of 2011 is passed, nursing homes would no longer be allowed to make the acceptance of a mandatory arbitration clause a prerequisite to admission. In fact, an individual would have the right to choose whether they wanted to proceed via the court system or arbitration after the dispute arose. The passage of this bill would be instrumental in ensuring that residents of nursing homes are not unfairly deprived of their rights. See Full Text of the Bill at: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s112-987