Last week, I wrote as a Pennsylvania nursing home lawyer about arbitration agreements in nursing homes. This is a hot topic right now, as more and more private homes require patients or their families to sign arbitration agreements as part of their admissions to the home. That was true in the several consolidated cases before the West Virginia Supreme Court in Brown v. Genesis Healthcare Corp. et al, decided June 29. In all three of the cases at hand, patients; family members signed arbitration agreements with nursing homes, and later sought to sue the homes for substandard care after the patients died. Prior to death, all three were admitted to hospitals with conditions including infection, dehydration, pneumonia, malnutrition and untreated pressure sores.
In each case, the nursing homes asked the courts to dismiss their claims and compel arbitration under the contracts. In two of the cases, the plaintiffs appealed from a dismissal; in the third, the trial court asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the Federal Arbitration Act preempted the West Virginia Nursing Home Act. The Supreme Court started by noting that families are generally under a lot of pressure and unable to shop around when choosing a nursing home. The Nursing Home Act prohibits patients and their representatives from waiving their rights to the courts. However, the Supreme Court said, the FAA preempts the state Act because the state Act does not provide "grounds for the revocation of any contract"; it applies specifically to nursing home arbitration contracts.
Full Article and Source:
Financial Exploitation in Nursing Homes
West Virginia Supreme Court Finds State Nursing Home Law Preempted by Federal Arbitration Act - Brown v. Genesis Healthcare Corp.