Court Allows Case to Proceed Due to Potentially Invalid Nursing Home Arbitration Agreement

Legal News GavelThese days, nursing homes in Maryland and throughout the country often require nursing home residents to sign arbitration agreements upon admission. In a recent case before a state appellate court, the court allowed a case against a nursing home to proceed after the family disputed the validity of the arbitration agreement.

The Facts

The plaintiff sued a nursing home on behalf of her deceased mother after her mother died at the nursing home. The nursing home filed a motion to compel arbitration based on an arbitration agreement that was allegedly signed by the daughter. However, the daughter argued that she did not knowingly sign a mandatory arbitration form on her mother’s behalf when her mother was admitted to the nursing home in 2003.

The 75-year-old mother was admitted to the nursing home on two occasions earlier that year. The first time, the daughter was asked to sign several documents when her mother was admitted, including an arbitration agreement. The daughter refused to sign the arbitration agreement, but the mother was admitted anyways. In court, the nursing home presented another arbitration agreement dated later that month with the daughter’s signature. The daughter claimed that the signature was not authentic and that even if it was, it was obtained by misrepresentation.

The court determined that there was a factual dispute regarding whether the arbitration agreement was valid. The court explained that a jury would have to decide whether the signature was authentic and, if so, whether it was procured by fraud. Therefore, the court dismissed the nursing home’s motion to compel arbitration, allowing the case to proceed to trial.

Arbitration Agreements

The first issue in many nursing home cases is the validity of arbitration agreements, as they can have a big impact on the outcome of the case. If a valid arbitration agreement was signed, generally the case has to be resolved through arbitration.

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows a case to be resolved outside of the court system. A designated arbitrator makes a final decision in the case, and it is usually faster and less costly. However, the formal process is foregone, the hearings are private, and the decision is normally final, without a right of appeal. Yet, in some cases, an arbitration agreement is not valid and enforceable, and a nursing home resident or their family members may be able to challenge the agreement itself.

Contact a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney

As the average age of the American population continues to increase, more families are forced to rely on the services of Maryland nursing homes to care for family members. Unfortunately, many nursing home facilities are not properly equipped to take care of individuals and many residents suffer from abuse and neglect. If your family member has been abused or neglected in a Maryland nursing home, retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney is essential. The attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen will gladly assist you with properly handling a legal claim against those responsible for the poor treatment of your loved one. Contact us at 1-800-654-1949 for a free, no obligation consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Upholds Validity of Nursing Home Arbitration Contract in Recent Personal Injury Case, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published July 20, 2018.

Prosecutors Ask Judge to Dismiss Case Against Neglectful Nurses, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published August 7, 2018.

 

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