When a family member moves into an assisted care facility, their new home is evaluated from many angles. What is the living space like? What are the staff qualifications? Have there been concerns raised in the past? Most likely, you aren’t considering the potential need for litigation.

Yet among the many pages of admissions paperwork, nursing home residents and their families are being asked to sign a forced arbitration agreement before being admitted. This agreement bars a court hearing in the case of disputes, including those that address abuse, injury, or wrongful death while at the facility.


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Updated 9/20/2019 – Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act — a groundbreaking bill that would prohibit all companies, including nursing homes, from using forced arbitration.

The bill now moves to the Senate, and if passed, access to the court system may be restored to the multitudes of Americans who have been forced into arbitration or even unknowingly signed away their constitutional right to sue. This bill is crucial for nursing home residents, who have had a long, difficult history of being forced into unfair arbitration.

Because these clauses are often buried in a stack of documents, many nursing home residents and their families are unaware of their inability to sue until something bad happens. If passed, the FAIR Act would go a far way to leveling the playing field for nursing home residents.

Original blog below:


Legal rights will once again be stripped away from elderly and disabled residents in nursing homes. On July 16, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid overturned the ban on nursing homes using arbitration agreements with their residents. For decades, nursing facilities could hide their malpractice and handle all claims brought against them behind closed doors by forcing residents to sign away their legal rights in arbitration agreements. For residents who experienced neglect, assault, or death due to a facility’s failures, their families were denied access to the Court system because these agreements waived the rights of residents to a jury trial awarded to them by the Constitution. Instead, claims were decided in a process presided over by an arbitrator often of the nursing home’s choosing, and many times pursuant to the nursing home’s rules. When things went horribly wrong due to their malpractice, nursing homes were able to contain their costs in these arbitration proceedings in which discovery was a less than searching process and awards for damages to the residents would often be low.


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Late last December, a nurse at Hacienda HealthCare in Arizona panicked and called 911 as a patient unexpectedly gave birth. The 29 year old patient, who has been in a vegetative state since age 3, delivered a healthy baby boy. A police investigation concluded that one of her caregivers, a 32 year-old male nurse, raped the patient several times and fathered the child. The victim’s attorneys filed a $45 million notice of claim against the state of Arizona in late May.

After giving birth in the nursing home, the victim and baby were transferred to a nearby hospital. According to the hospital, the baby’s birth was “a repeat parous event,” meaning the victim had likely been pregnant before.


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Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) revised their Nursing Home Compare 5-Star Quality Rating System, giving 29 New Jersey nursing facilities a one-star rating. These updates intend to give consumers clearer information about the quality of care residents receive at different nursing centers. The changes also aim to promote quality improvement within the facilities.

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After an “accidental” fall in a Brick Township, New Jersey nursing home landed an Alzheimer’s patient in the hospital, the patient’s daughter advocated for more protection of the elderly. The elder abuse regulations geared to prevent elder abuse are finally law.

Gov. Chris Christie signed Peggy’s Law (S-1219), named for Peggy Marzolla, in August of 2017. The law aims to protect senior citizens in nursing homes from abuse by requiring facility staff to promptly report suspected abuse and exploitation to law enforcement. Previously, staff members were only required to submit cases of abuse to New Jersey’s Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly, but not to the police.


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The federal government imposed a $600,331 fine on the New Jersey nursing center where a viral outbreak left 11 children dead and 36 sick last year. Investigators reported Wanaque nursing home’s poor infection controls, lack of administrative oversight, and slow response from medical staff “directly contributed” to the rapid spread of the virus and its related death toll.

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The daughter of a 76-year-old man is suing her father’s nursing home in South Holland, Chicago, over a video in which multiple caretakers allegedly coerced him into exposing himself on Facebook Live.

The lawsuit was filed last week against Holland Home, an assisted living facility, and claims that the employees abused and humiliated the resident, who is a stroke survivor and was diagnosed with dementia.


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The Trump Administration has recently adopted new limits on the use of guidance documents for federal agencies. Guidance documents are the government’s interpretation of rules and laws that apply to agencies and related businesses.

Federal agencies have issued hundreds of guidance documents on a host of laws which cover issues like healthcare, civil rights, and labor.

These changes will most likely have a significant impact on the agencies which oversee healthcare industries, like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and the Department and Health & Human Services, because these agencies rely heavily on these documents to operate.


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