Recently, a divided Florida Supreme Court said it would not reconsider a decision rejecting arbitration in a lawsuit about injuries suffered by a nursing-home resident. Appeals courts across the state in recent years have dealt with questions about the legality of arbitration agreements that nursing-home residents or family members have signed at the time of admission. The agreements are designed to settle legal disputes in arbitration, rather than going to court and potentially being decided by juries.
In September, the Supreme Court said a father, Juan Mendez Sr., could not be bound by an arbitration requirement that his son signed without the elder Mendez’s agreement. The elder Mendez suffered an infection in 2011 that led to the removal of his left eye, prompting a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County circuit court against Hampton Court Nursing Center. The nursing home argued the case should be resolved in arbitration, but the Supreme Court disagreed. The elder Mendez died in 2013.
Nova Southeastern University Law Professor Marilyn Uzdavines told the Florida Record that the ruling came down to whether the contract was enforceable, because the resident of the nursing home didn’t sign the contract himself and because the client’s son was not legally an appointed guardian.
Attorneys for the nursing home filed a motion last month for a rehearing in the case, pointing to potentially far-reaching implications of the Supreme Court’s decision. “(The) standard adopted by the majority in this case is likely to have unexpected consequences and an impact that reaches far beyond long term care litigation to any area of the law where arbitration and third party beneficiary law intersect,” the motion for rehearing said. “Put another way, the decision, as currently written, could effectively quash numerous decisions in addition to those directly referenced in the opinion (in countless different industries).”
But justices, by the same 5-2 majority as in the September decision, rejected the motion.
Because of the Florida ruling, nursing homes are more likely to become more diligent in ensuring who is signing patient contracts and whether they’re allowed to sign them. Experts expect this could have a huge impact because of the large population of elderly people in the state.
If you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact us at Edwards & Ragatz for a free consultation: (800)366-1609; locally – (904)399-1609; or through our website www.edwardsragatz.com
Source: http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/florida-supreme-court-won-t-reconsider-nursing-home-case & http://flarecord.com/stories/511041243-florida-supreme-court-ruling-could-affect-nursing-home-contracts
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