A 67 year old New England man found out the hard way. In 2006 and nearing 100 years of age, he admitted his mother to a nursing home. Three years later, she was found dead at the hands of her roommate.
An investigation showed that the nursing home facility was aware of the roommate’s volatility. Workers claimed that the roommate was a “risk to herself and others,” yet did nothing to safeguard his mother or other residents from harm.
He had plans to file a lawsuit against the nursing home for negligence, but something got in the way.
A provision in his mother’s nursing home contract stated that all disputes must be handled through “private arbitration” only.
At first, there wasn’t much disgruntlement. Later, however, he found out that the arbitration firm handling the case had represented the nursing home on multiple prior occasions-a blatant conflict of interest. And the arbitrator, as he predicted, ruled in favor of the nursing home. No reasoning or explanation was provided.
Not only that, the instance-thanks to the privacy of arbitration proceedings-is now hidden from the public and potential future residents of the nursing home.
Sadly, because of this very reason, arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts are popping up everywhere. The New York Times indicates that during the 4-year- period from 2010-2014, almost 500 nursing home abuse and neglect cases went through arbitration, all concealed from the public.
This strategy, however, is receiving plenty of pushback. Officials in 16 states have pressured the federal government to deny government funding for entities that insert such inconspicuous arbitration clauses into their contracts.
It’s time nursing homes were forced to be transparent about instances of abuse and neglect, they argue.