One highly contested area of personal injury litigation includes cases arising from the harm residents of nursing homes face when they have been the victim of negligence. In an effort to limit their exposure to damages, nursing homes often have an arbitration agreement which they ask their residents to sign before admittance to the home.
Arbitration agreements in general are written contracts in which two or more parties agree to settle a dispute outside of court. The arbitration agreement is ordinarily a clause in a larger contract, which is almost always the case in a Florida nursing home lease agreement.
Recently, the 5th District Court of Appeal of Florida ruled on the enforceability of a Florida nursing home arbitration agreement. In Perry v. Sovereign Healthcare of Metro West, LLC, So.3d , 37 FLW D2390 (Fla. 5th DCA 10-12-2012) the court of appeals examined a case where the resident’s daughter executed the arbitration agreement but only as the financially responsible party. In the Perry case, the nursing home residency agreement was not signed by the resident and the resident was competent with no signs that her mental faculties were impaired.
The 5th DCA ruled that the resident’s daughter did not have authority to sign for her mother, therefore no valid agreement existed between the facility and the resident so the arbitration agreement was unenforceable. It is likely that the defendant (nursing home) wanted to uphold the arbitration agreement as it may have limited or capped the amount of damages they were responsible for. By setting the arbitration agreement aside, the Plaintiff can move forward with their lawsuit and present their case for damages before a jury.
In the event you have questions or you or a loved one have been a victim of negligence or abuse by a nursing home we welcome you to contact Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation. Our law office has a division devoted to personal injury cases and nursing home litigation and our office does not receive any compensation unless we recover damages for you.