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Trial Court Refuses To Enforce Nursing Home Binding Arbitration Agreement

Do you believe that pre-treatment binding arbitration agreements to nursing homes are valid?  This means that even before a person has been admitted to a nursing home facility they, or their loved one, would agree to arbitrate any negligence claims as opposed to litigating the case in court.  Do you believe that these agreements are only valid if entered into after the dispute has arisen so that a person is not bound to an unfair process before they waive a constitutional right?

Pisano v. Extendicare Homes, Inc., No. 41 of 2012 (Westmoreland Co. July 9, 2012) the trial court in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania denies the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. After the death of her father the Administrator of his Estate filed a wrongful death suit against a long term care nursing care facility. Prior to her father’s death the personal with power of attorney executed a binding ADR arbitration agreement. Once the lawsuit was filed the nursing home attempted to have it dismissed by arguing that the case was required to be decided pursuant to the binding ADR agreement.

The trial court denies the Defendant’s Motion and finds that under the Pennsylvania Constitution Art. 1, Section 6 and Rule 213(e) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure the contractual rights must give way to constitutional rights, particularly when a procedural rule also requires the consolidation of a wrongful death action with a survival action. Since the children of the decedent did not enter into the arbitration agreement they cannot be deemed to waive the right to a jury trial by the actions of the person with a power of attorney. Therefore, rule 213 requires the consolidation of the two actions into one case in lieu of the arbitration process.

If you have an injury or a loved one is injured or killed by another’s actions in Pennsylvania feel free to contact Schmidt Kramer’s experienced personal injury lawyer based in Central Pennsylvania who can answer any questions you may have about your rights in any personal injury case, particularly nursing home abuse or negligence.