About a million-and-a-half Americans, mostly elderly, are in nursing homes. Mortality rates in nursing homes are high, and abuse and neglect are common.
When victims and their families sue nursing homes for deaths or injuries resulting from improper care, they often find their path to court blocked by arbitration agreements the nursing homes had them sign at the time of admission. Arbitration agreements require people to give up their rights to go to court and force them to resolve cases through arbitration instead. In arbitration, cases are decided by private arbitrators who rely on companies such as nursing homes for repeat business. Arbitrators are bound by neither precedent nor rules of court procedure, and their decisions usually cannot be appealed. Because nursing homes think they have a better chance in front of a paid arbitrator than a judge and jury, nursing-home arbitration agreements have proliferated in recent years. Read more