If a resident of a Maryland nursing home has signed an arbitration agreement, they will be prevented from filing a case against the nursing home in court and must instead pursue their claim through the arbitration process. Thus, one of the earliest and most important considerations in a Maryland nursing home abuse or neglect case is whether there is a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement.
Most nursing homes present residents with an arbitration agreement. Often, these agreements are buried deep in dense paragraphs, and they may not be fully understood by residents. Importantly, the fact that an arbitration agreement exists is not necessarily determinative of whether a resident will be forced to arbitrate their claim; courts will review arbitration clauses as well as the manner in which they were entered into before determining whether the agreement can be enforced.
One issue that frequently comes up in nursing home negligence and abuse cases in which an arbitration clause is present is whether the party that signed the contract had authority to do so. In a recent case decided by a federal appellate court, the court held that verbal consent given by a resident – rather than the typical document granting power of attorney – was acceptable to form a binding contract.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was the daughter of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. Prior to her mother’s admission, the plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement on behalf of her mother. At the time, the plaintiff’s mother had not executed any formal document bestowing power of attorney to the plaintiff. However, the plaintiff’s mother had given the plaintiff verbal consent to sign on her behalf.
After her mother’s death, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the nursing home, arguing that the facility’s negligence contributed to her mother’s death. The nursing home sought to dismiss the plaintiff’s case on the basis that her mother had executed an agreement to arbitrate any claims. The plaintiff argued that she did not have actual authority to sign the arbitration agreement on behalf of her mother because there had been no formal document executed by her mother.
The court, however, held that a formal document is not always necessary and that in this case, the plaintiff’s mother’s verbal consent was sufficient.
Is Your Loved One at Risk?
If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that they are not receiving the care and treatment that they deserve, contact the dedicated Maryland nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent nursing home residents and their families in cases against negligent and abusive nursing home employees and management. To learn more about how we can help you recover damages for the injuries that you or your loved one has endured, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
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.