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.