We have written in the past about the worrisome trend – initiated by a group of conservative corporate lawyers – to limit the rights of consumers to sue companies for fraud and injury.
In the last few years, these lawyers have begun encouraging their corporate clients to insert clauses into consumer contracts that protected those companies from all class action lawsuits.
The motivation for this strategy?
It’s as simple as it is wrong. These lawyers simply want to shield the corporate profits of their clients in the event a corporation’s products or services cause harm to consumers.
And these clauses are finding their way into more and more consumer contracts – even into the contracts of nursing home residents.
Hard to believe??
Now imagine this: you have a parent in a nursing home… and you signed a “standard” contract (though mind bogglingly complex) that allowed her to stay there. The nursing home then knowingly pairs your mom with a patient who, unbeknownst to you, is mentally unstable. An argument ensues between the roommates over the placement of a small table. The roommate turns violent and murders your mom.
It’s not. It actually happened to a family in Massachusetts.
One would think the aggrieved family would have every right to seek justice for their elderly parent – right?
Guess again. The family had actually signed a complicated contract with fine print requiring all complaints to be arbitrated – even in cases of wrongful death and negligence.
And when they initially agreed to arbitration in this very case – they discovered what so many other consumers have discovered – the arbitration company chosen by the nursing home (yes – they have the right to choose the arbitrator) had an ongoing business relationship with the nursing home.
The family is now challenging the matter in court – and using an interesting strategy – one that questions whether aging parents should be bound by contracts signed by other family members.
According to the New York Times, the case “has become a crucial test of a legal strategy to prevent nursing homes across the country from requiring their residents to go to arbitration, where there is no judge or jury and the proceedings are hidden from public scrutiny.”
And there is hope that these clauses can at some point be abolished for nursing home residents. Sixteen states are now urging the federal government to deny Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements to any nursing homes that use these arbitration clauses.
Consumers have the right to expect that corporations selling dangerous products or services will be held accountable when those products and/or services cause harm.
If you or a loved one is ever injured in a nursing home accident of any kind, call a qualified Connecticut personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable and well trained personal injury lawyer can help you fight powerful corporate interests when you’ve been hurt, ensuring that you’re not harassed or abused and that your rights are protected.
The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind. And – there is no fee or other costs unless we are successful on your behalf.