Florida Appeals Court Compels Arbitration Between Nursing Home and Plaintiff

Recently, an appeals court issued an opinion in a Florida nursing home abuse lawsuit. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a nursing home, alleging that the home neglected his father, leading to the father’s death. The nursing home filed a motion to dismiss the claim and compel arbitration based on an agreement the parties signed before the plaintiff’s father admittance.

Arbitration agreements are designed to provide parties with an alternative to filing a lawsuit when a dispute arises. Although arbitration is designed to cut legal costs, it also is a means to force plaintiffs to accept terms that may not be in their favor. There are generally two types of arbitration, binding and non-binding. If a party signs a contract for binding arbitration, the decision is binding and cannot be appealed. However, non-binding arbitration allows the parties to either accept the decision or file a lawsuit.

Generally, both parties must agree to arbitrate before undertaking any contractual relationship. However, in many situations, a nursing home adds the provision to their contract, and the other party may not adequately understand the agreement or have the opportunity to dispute it. For example, if a family needs to get their loved one member into a Florida nursing home, they may sign the contract and agreement to arbitrate because they want to ensure that their loved one is admitted as soon as possible.

In this case, the man argued that the arbitration agreement was not enforceable because an affiliate of the facility signed the agreement rather than the nursing home. The lower court granted the nursing home’s motion to compel arbitration finding that “gateway” issues, such as who agreed should be submitted to the arbitrator. The United States Supreme Court has stated that an arbitrator should decide gateway issues such as whether the parties agreed to arbitrate.

If a party wants to dispute an arbitration agreement, the court will evaluate two elements to determine the validity of the contract. First, whether the parties agreed to arbitrate at all. Second, whether the agreement covers the claim at hand. However, in instances such as this case, if the agreement has a delegation clause, the arbitrator can compel arbitration. In this situation, the appeals court ordered the parties to arbitrate. At arbitration, the arbitrator will likely determine the validity of the contract and then decide issues of liability.

Have You or a Loved One Suffered Florida Nursing Home Abuse?

If your loved one has suffered due to the negligence of a Florida nursing home, you should contact the dedicated Florida injury attorneys at Friedman Rodman & Frank, P.A. The attorneys at our South Florida law firm have extensive experience handling Miami nursing home abuse lawsuits. These lawsuits can be challenging both from a legal and emotional standpoint, and it is essential to have a dedicated advocate handle your claims. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you or your loved one sustained. Compensation may include payments for past medical bills, future medical expenses, funeral costs, and pain and suffering. Contact the Florida injury lawyers at 877-448-8585 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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