Florida Rejects Arbitration of Wrongful Death Claim Against Nursing Home; Issue Remains Open in Indiana
A recent decision of the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a man’s wrongful death claim against the nursing home where his uncle died could proceed in court and was not required to go to arbitration, despite a clause in the nursing home admissions contract that called for arbitration of all disputes and forbid punitive damages. In rejecting the nursing home’s attempt to force the man to arbitrate, the court said the arbitration provision of the contract violates Florida’s public policy by undermining the remedies under state statutes protecting the rights of nursing home residents.
This issue has not been decided in Indiana, but Indiana courts have long required arbitration in disputes between consumers and businesses where contract language called for arbitration, including several recent cases. Federal law, too, tends to favor arbitration.
The lesson for Indiana families is to protect your rights by carefully and thoroughly reading any nursing home contract or admission agreement before signing. If the contract calls for arbitration or limits a resident’s right to trial by jury or recovery of damages, you ought to question why the nursing home wants or needs to limit its liability and its residents’ rights.
If you have questions about whether a particular nursing home admission agreement may limit your family member’s rights, please contact Sweeney Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss the agreement. We will explain the contract in plain language and help you and your family to understand if you are giving up important legal rights by signing the agreement.