Most nursing homes in Tennessee and surrounding states now include arbitration agreements (also known as ADR or alternative dispute resolution agreements) as part of the paperwork presented when a resident is admitted to a nursing home. So, when a resident is admitted to a nursing home, typically a representative from the nursing home will ask the resident or his or her family member to waive the resident’s constitutional right to a jury trial, should the resident be injured or die due to the nursing home’s negligent care. What this means is before the resident suffers an injury at the nursing home, the nursing home has already gotten the resident to sign away his or her right to sue the nursing home. While Federal and Tennessee law require that nursing homes protect the rights of their residents, exactly the opposite occurs most times when someone is admitted to a nursing home. As a result, residents may suffer injuries such as bed sores, sexual assault, weight loss, infections, dehydration, or even broken bones and not be able to sue in a court of law.
It has been our experience that arbitration agreements are often not adequately explained. Residents and family members may be made to feel as though they have to sign these agreements in order for their loved one or family member to be admitted to the nursing home for necessary care and treatment, or worse – families or residents are misled to believe that the documents they are being asked to sign are typical, unimportant, and nothing but a formality. As anyone who has had to admit a loved one to a nursing home knows, this can be a very stressful and difficult time. You would like to trust the person explaining the documents and rely on their representations to be honest, but we strongly encourage you – TALK TO A LAWYER BEFORE SIGNING ANY NURSING HOME ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS. In Tennessee, as in most states, when you sign a document, you are presumed to have read its content even if you did not. You may be bound by what you sign. Thus, before you sign yourself or a loved one into a nursing home, or if you have recently signed yourself or a loved one into a nursing home, please contact Jehl Law Group, PLLC. Our law firm has an office and attorneys in Tennessee. Our lawyers have years of experience with nursing home abuse cases. At no charge to you, we will be happy to review arbitration paperwork with you and provide you with an initial consultation.
Our lawyers have successfully litigated against the enforcement of arbitration agreements time and again. Here are just some of the appellate opinions where our lawyers have successfully argued against the enforcement of arbitration agreements:
Wilkins v. GGNSC Springfield, LLC d/b/a Golden Living Center-Springfield, et al., 2014 WL 819460 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 27, 2014);
Caudle v. Columbia Operations, LLC d/b/a Life Care Centers of Columbia, et al., 2012 WL 3674573 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 27, 2012);
Davis v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc., et al., 2011 WL 1467212 (Tenn. Ct. App. April 19, 2011);
Duke v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc., et al., 2011 WL 864321 (Tenn. Ct. App. March 14, 2011);
Person v. Kindred Healthcare, Inc., et al., 2010 WL 1838014 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 7, 2010);
Barclay v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc., et al., 2009 WL 2615821 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 26, 2009);
Barbee v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc., et al., 2008 WL 4615858 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 20, 2008);
Jones v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc., et al., 2008 WL 3861980 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 20, 2008);
Nursing homes should promote the protection of your rights, not take them away. Arbitration agreements are intended to take away the ability to hold nursing homes fully accountable for their actions.