The most vulnerable Americans and their families will no longer be forced to give up their legal rights and sign one-sided mandatory binding arbitration clauses under legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.
The bipartisan Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009, introduced by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), will prevent nursing homes from deliberately hiding clauses within the fine print of contracts that force seniors to surrender their right to trial by jury and enter an unfair and one-sided mandatory binding arbitration process. The bill was introduced in the U.S. House last week by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA).
“The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act will make sure negligent nursing home corporations can be held accountable by our most vulnerable citizens,” said American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod. “This bill will prevent nursing home corporations from unfairly preying on seniors and stripping away their legal rights. Arbitration should only be voluntarily, not hidden away in the fine print of contracts during our seniors’ greatest time of need.”
The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009 will help people like Minnesota resident Dean Cole, who received unconscionable care from a negligent nursing corporation. Suffering from dementia, Dean needed help eating meals every day; but during his 22 day residency, Dean lost 20.6 pounds without his physician or wife ever being notified. After being admitted to the hospital, he was found to be severely dehydrated, with a water deficit near 10 liters. Dean died less than a month later. His family sought justice by bringing a suit against the nursing home for negligent care, but learned they would be forced into one-sided mandatory binding arbitration on the corporation’s own terms and denied the right to trial by jury. The case is still pending.