On Thursday, February 10, 2022, the United States Senate voted affirmatively to pass a bill that will improve accountability for the survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The bipartisan vote in favor of Senate Bill 2342 entitled, "Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act" comes only 3 days after the House voted overwhelmingly to pass its version of the bill known as HR 4445. As a result of this bill, survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment will not be forced into binding arbitration.
The Dickson Firm, L.L.C. has worked for decades to fight forced arbitration in nursing home cases.
Often, nursing homes conceal arbitration clauses in their lengthy admission documents. Typically, an admission person, who works for the nursing home and often does not in any way understand the difference between arbitration and litigation, asks a nursing home resident, or their loved one, whether or not they have authority, to sign admission paperwork to have the resident admitted into the nursing home. Concealed in that admission paperwork, is an arbitration clause in which the signer is unintentionally, and unknowingly, agreeing that if a lawsuit has to be filed against the nursing home, it cannot be litigated in court, and the case cannot be tried to a jury. Instead the case is forced into binding arbitration. Often, this binding arbitration must be handled by an organization, and a group of arbitrators, who are connected to, and in often cases, aligned with the owner of the nursing home.
Certain groups that have provided arbitration services in the past, have been determined to be working with various large corporations in an effort to give those large corporations advantages in the arbitrations.
Fortunately, the Ohio Supreme Court decided a case in which it determined that an individual cannot bind their next of kin. Therefore, the wrongful death portion of a lawsuit against a nursing home, the portion that deals with damages for the decedent's next of kin, when the nursing resident has been killed as a result of the negligence and/or recklessness and/or actual malice of the nursing home, cannot be forced into arbitration based on an arbitration clause signed by the nursing home resident or their representative. However, nursing homes still try to force the survivorship portion of the claim into binding arbitration. This is that portion of the claim in which the estate of the decedent or the nursing home resident themself in cases where they have suffered injury and not been killed, seek damages for the resident's pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and medical bills incurred for treatment that they received for the injuries that they suffered as a result of the negligence and/or recklessness and/or actual malice of a nursing home.
Many organizations have come out against binding arbitration, particularly when that arbitration agreement is entered into before the claim ever arises.
The only reason that nursing homes try to convince individuals to sign these arbitration clauses or attempt to have them sign these arbitration clauses without knowing they're signing these arbitration clauses, is because their research has shown that when these cases are arbitrated, the decisions against the nursing home result in smaller amounts than if these cases go to a jury.
If you are admitting a loved one to a nursing home, please read everything you are asked to sign very carefully.
Please check the documents for an arbitration clause or an alternative dispute resolution clause or any such document in which you are asked to give up your right to a jury trial
If you have any questions about documents that you are asked to sign when admitting someone to a nursing home, feel free to call us at The Dickson Firm, as we would be happy to talk with you and help you in any way that we can.