Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a nursing home case brought by the surviving loved ones of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home facility. The case presented a hot-button issue in many nursing home cases across the country: the enforceability of an arbitration clause that was contained in a pre-admission contract. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff was bound by the arbitration clause because the person who signed on the resident’s behalf had the authority to do so, and the clause itself was not contrary to public policy or otherwise unenforceable.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was the daughter of a nursing home resident who died shortly after being admitted to the hospital while she was a resident at the defendant nursing home. The allegations were that the nursing home failed to implement a safety protocol to prevent residents from falling. The evidence presented suggested that the plaintiff’s loved one fell at least twice during her stay, resulting in injuries that worsened and eventually led to her premature death.
Prior to the resident’s admission into the nursing home, one of the resident’s daughters signed a pre-admission contract. That contract had an arbitration clause contained in it, which stated that the parties agreed to submit any claims between the two to binding arbitration, rather than handling them through the court system. At the time, the resident had executed a power of attorney document, granting her daughter power over her affairs “without limitation.”