You better hope you don’t have any elderly relatives residing at the Rainbow Health Care Center in Bristow, Oklahoma! Why? Because Rainbow requires each resident to sign away their right to a jury trial, which means that even if Rainbow intentionally or negligently acts to harm your relativethey must have their injuries evaluated by ,arbitration.
As it turns out, maybe you don’t have to worry – yet, because U.S. Magistrate Frank McCarthy denied Rainbow’s request that they should legally be able to force all new residents to sign an agreement stating that they will not take Rainbow to court regardless of any intentional or negligent treatment they might receive from Rainbow’s staff.
There are a growing number of these types of cases, because nursing homes argue that they should be able to limit their liability to those who have been injured, and that arbitration is the way to go. But, as the baby boomers continue to occupy a larger percentage of the senior population, issues of reasonable and competent care and nursing homes seeking to avoid liability will only continue to loom over the courthouse steps.
Oklahoma already has several similar cases on the docket but, according to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Federal Arbitration Act does not pre-empt state law on the subjectand while there has been no final determination it seems that forcing new applicants of nursing homes to sign agreements forfeiting their right to a jury trial when they have been intentionally or negligently harmed by a member of the nursing home staff, will not prevail in the end.
In most cases, when an arbitration agreement is signed, the senior will have no recourse to a jury trial. No claim can go through the civil justice system to a jury; it must go through a private arbitrator. The private arbitrator is not a judicial officer and their decision, no matter how many mistakes of law the arbitrator may make, is final and cannot be appealed accept through fraud on the part of the arbitrator.
It is often said that a society will be judged by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable members. So let us step up to the plate and protect those who gave us life!
Call me with your questions regarding nursing home abuse and mandatory arbitration clauses, John Bisnar, 800-259-6373. The firm of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys has extensive experience with Nursing Home Abuse cases.