Beware of Arbitration Agreements

Justice Denied – NY Times Reviews Growing
Number of Arbitration Horror Stories

In “Beware the Fine Print,” a searing new three-part series on the ubiquity of mandatory arbitration agreements in consumer contracts, the New York Times examined “how clauses buried in tens of millions of contracts have deprived Americans of one of their most fundamental constitutional rights: their day in court.” The series discusses how consumers and employees are often unwittingly forced to have their disputes heard by business-friendly arbitrators with no oversight from judges and courts. The result is a dispute resolution system with biased results, no accountability, and no justice. Nearly all nursing homes use mandatory arbitration agreements to avoid answering for poor care.

What is Arbitration?

  • Arbitration is a way of resolving disputes using a paid decision-maker, called an arbitrator.
  • The arbitrator’s decision is binding and none of the disputing parties may appeal or use the state’s court system. The decision is private, meaning no one else will benefit from a successful case.

What are Arbitration Agreements?

  • Arbitration agreements are promises to use arbitration – and not the court system – to resolve disputes.
  • Most arbitration agreements are hidden in contracts so that consumers will not pay attention to the fact they are waiving important rights to seek justice.
  • In arbitration agreements, businesses win and consumers lose.

Why are they Bad for Long Term Care Residents?

  • When a resident of a nursing home signs an admission agreement that includes an arbitration provision, the parties are agreeing to give up their constitutional right to have a dispute decided in a court of law in front of a jury.
  • They are agreeing to the use of binding arbitration before the dispute even happens

How to avoid signing an arbitration agreement:

  • Ask to sign after admission. Then simply don’t sign it.
  • Cross out and withhold surrogate authority.
  • Consider going somewhere else.

Printed with permission of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR)

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