For many years, nursing homes have required residents and their families to agree to a mandatory binding arbitration, waiving their right to sue facilities for abusive or improper care and instead requiring them to settle any issues outside of court. Last fall, the Obama Administration aimed to reverse the common practice of barring residents from taking nursing homes to court. Now, the Trump Administration has sadly failed to continue that fight.
Binding arbitration agreements protect solely the nursing homes, while the elderly are expected to sign away their legal rights in order to live at the facility. Upon agreeing to move into the nursing home, the elder and/or the family is presented a thick pile of administration paperwork. They are often led to believe (or are afraid) they won’t be allowed to move in if they don’t sign all the paperwork. Buried within that paperwork is the binding arbitration clause that bars the resident from taking the facility to court.
Beginning November 28, 2016, a rule was issued that would have prohibited nursing facilities from requiring mandatory binding arbitration agreements with residents and families. This move played a key part in the fight to protect elder residents living in nursing homes, opening the doors to restore residents’ seventh-amendment right to a trial by jury.
Failing to Protect Our Elderly
In December 2016, a special interest group filed an injunction in an attempt to stop the new rule from taking effect. At the time, the Trump administration was apparently working on an appeal. On Friday, June 2, the current Administration failed to submit the paperwork necessary to continue the appeals process by the proper deadline. Sadly, its failure to follow through has virtually ended the fight against an unjust rule favoring nursing homes’ interests rather than the residents they serve.
The American Association for Justice (AAJ) issued a statement calling the decision disappointing, signaling to our nation’s seniors that “their government is no longer working to protect them from abuse, fraud, and neglect.”
We are sad to report this news. The elderly are some of the most treasured and vulnerable people in our community, and we must do better in ensuring their safety and care.
The Ruth Law Team has handled elder abuse and nursing home neglect cases for more than 35 years. To speak to an experienced attorney, contact us at 1-888-783-8378.