Supreme Court Hears Case Concerning Arbitration Provisions

Nursing home residents and their families often sign admission agreements when a resident enters a nursing home. These agreements frequently contain arbitration provisions, which can have a significant impact in a Maryland nursing home lawsuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard argument on a case concerning arbitration provisions. The issue before the Court was how courts should decide whether a claim is required to be resolved through arbitration. If two parties have signed a contract that includes an arbitration provision, a later dispute may arise on whether a particular dispute falls within the arbitration provision.

Disputing the Validity of Arbitration Provisions in Nursing Home Agreements

Arbitration provisions are increasingly common in nursing home agreements. If a nursing home resident or a family member signs a contract with an arbitration provision, there may still be a way to keep the case in court. An arbitration agreement can force a matter to be resolved in arbitration, which can have present serious drawbacks for plaintiffs. For one, the arbitrator’s decision is final, meaning that a plaintiff cannot appeal an adverse ruling. However, the arbitration provision itself is not always enforceable.

The Case: Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer & White Sales Inc.

The case did not arise in the nursing home context; however, it is nonetheless important because it deals with the broader issue of arbitration. In the case before the Supreme Court, the arbitration provision in the contract stated that any “dispute arising under or related to” the contract was subject to arbitration “except for actions seeking injunctive relief.”.

The plaintiff brought a claim alleging violations of the Sherman Act and other similar state laws, as well as a claim seeking injunctive relief. The defendants argued that apart from the claim for injunctive relief, the claim was subject to arbitration, and that any injunctive relief could be decided after an arbitrator decided the claim on the merits. The trial court had previously decided that this case did not need to be sent to arbitration because the issue of arbitrability was “wholly groundless.”

The Justices are considering whether there should be an exception for “wholly groundless” claims of arbitrability. If so, in situations where the arbitration issue is “wholly groundless,” a court would be able to make the initial determination that a plaintiff’s claim should proceed in a court of law, bypassing the arbitrator’s ability to weigh in on the issue.

Challenging Arbitration Provisions in Nursing Home Agreements

Even if there is an arbitration provision in a nursing home admission agreement, in some cases the agreement will not be valid or enforceable. A party may also be able to challenge the agreement itself. Arbitration provisions can be challenged for several reasons. For example, a resident may not have the mental capacity to sign an agreement, the provision may violate public policy, the provision may not comply with state or federal laws, or arbitration of the specific claim may not fall within the scope of the provision.

Discuss Your Nursing Home Claim with an Attorney

If your loved one has been injured at a Maryland nursing home, and there is an arbitration provision in the agreement, you may be able to have your case heard in court. The Maryland personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience representing victims throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. We approach each case with empathy and professionalism, and will gladly assist you to bring a claim against those responsible for the poor treatment of your loved one. Contact us at 410-654-2600 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Government Attempts to Combat Underreporting of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Maryland and Nationwide, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published November 14, 2018.

Maryland Announces $2.2 Million Settlement with Nursing Homes for Involuntarily Discharging Patients, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published November 7, 2018.

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