Court Holds Family Member of Nursing Home Resident Cannot Consent to Arbitration Unless Resident Is Deemed Incompetent by Primary Care Physician

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Mississippi issued an interesting opinion for anyone who signed an arbitration clause when admitting their loved one to a nursing home. In the case, Tarvin v. CLC of Jackson, the court determined that the arbitration clause signed by the plaintiff on behalf of her elderly father was not binding because she did not have the legal right to waive her father’s rights, absent a determination of his incompetency.

Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Contracts

Whenever a party enters into a contract, they try to include as many favorable terms as possible. However, sometimes nursing homes can overreach, including arbitration clauses that may act to prevent the resident from using the court system to adjudicate any disputes between the parties. Indeed, if an arbitration clause is valid, the parties are required to go to arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit. This can have negative effects on plaintiffs, since usually the nursing home selects which arbitrator to use, giving rise to potential favoritism.

Arbitration clauses, however, are not always valid. In fact, in Tarvin, the court held that the arbitration clause at issue could not be enforced. The court explained that a nursing home resident’s right to use the court system is an important one, and it cannot be waived by just anyone. The court explained that it is only when a resident is deemed incompetent that a loved one can validly sign a binding arbitration agreement. In the Tarvin case, the doctor who determined the plaintiff’s father was incompetent was not his primary care provider. Thus, the court held that there was insufficient evidence proving the elderly man’s incompetence, and he did not validly consent to arbitration through his daughter.

Many times, the litigation over whether an arbitration clause is binding is determinative of whether a plaintiff’s case will be successful. In fact, in some cases, when a nursing home loses the arbitration issue, it immediately attempts to settle the case without even going to trial. In any event, anyone who signed an arbitration agreement and is considering bringing a nursing home negligence or nursing home abuse case should contact a dedicated personal injury attorney today to discuss their rights and potential remedies.

Has Your Loved One Suffered in a Maryland Nursing Home?

If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that they have been ignored, mistreated, or abused, you may have a case against the nursing home. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience handling cases against nursing homes in all types of situations. We understand that arbitration agreements are often signed without understanding which rights are being given away, and we do what we can to convince courts that the agreement should not be binding. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney today, call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Finds Nursing Home Facility Waived Its Right to Seek Mediation in Wrongful Death Case, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published June 7, 2016.

Court Improperly Failed to Allow Nursing Home Plaintiff to Name Additional Defendants Later Discovered to Be Involved in Key Decision-Making Roles, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published June 28, 2016.

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