Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida wrongful death case brought by a woman whose husband died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. The case required that the court determine whether the plaintiff’s claim involving the validity of the arbitration agreement should be determined by the named arbitrator, or whether it was properly before the court. Citing the lack of a delegation clause, the court determined that the arbitrator lacked jurisdiction to make the determination.
It is common for a Florida nursing home resident to be provided with an arbitration agreement prior to admission and asked to sign. While a nursing home cannot make admission contingent upon the signing of the agreement, that fact is rarely made known to residents and their families.
The benefits of arbitration flow mostly to the nursing home. For example, the decreased cost of litigation is more important for a nursing home, which may face frequent claims. Similarly, the confidentiality of arbitration benefits the nursing home in the event that the resident’s claim is substantiated. Finally, nursing homes are able to choose the forum where the arbitration will take place, creating the potential for favoritism and bias.