Nursing Home Lawsuit News and Settlement Updates
Nursing Home Lawsuit: PA Court Rules Nursing Home Can't Force Arbitration On Negligence Claim
In another example of a growing trend taking place in courts nationwide, a Pennsylvania appellate panel has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a nursing home operator cannot force a woman’s negligence claim into binding arbitration. The court determined that the woman’s daughter had been acting outside the scope of her authorization when she purportedly executed the arbitration agreement on her mother’s behalf.
Plaintiff Elsie Clementson brought a claim of negligence against Evangelical Manor nursing home after suffering a fall that resulted in a broken tibia. The nursing home moved to have the case removed to arbitration based on a so-called Responsible Person Agreement (RPA) signed by Clementson’s daughter, Joanne Reilly.
However, in affirming a lower court’s 2016 ruling, the Pennsylvania appellate panel found that the RPA bound Reilly personally, not Clementson. In its decision, the panel stated that the nursing home had failed to provide any evidence that Clementson was aware either that her daughter had signed the RPA or that the arbitration clause contained therein even existed.
In pertinent part, the panel wrote, “In sum, we find no error in the trial court’s finding that there was no agency, and hence, no binding agreement to arbitrate. The RPA was an agreement between the facility and Ms. Reilly personally; she did not execute it pursuant to any authority conferred upon her by her mother.”
The trend of courts finding RPAs and other arbitration agreements nonbinding on nursing home residents where those agreements have been signed by family members without the knowledge and authorization of the resident is a significant one because for years nursing home operators have been using arbitration agreements to keep cases of nursing home negligence out of the public court system, where there would be greater attendant publicity and where a jury of citizens—rather than a single paid arbitrator—would decide the verdict and damages.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm while a nursing home resident, the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are standing by now for a free consultation.
Nursing Home Lawsuit: Ohio Appellate Court Upholds $1.1 Million Negligence Award
On Friday, March 23, an appellate panel in Ohio upheld a $1.1 million judgment against a nursing home and nursing home operator, who had been accused of negligence and malpractice in the death of resident Donald Lee Howard. In its decision, the panel also reversed a lower court ruling that had dismissed the survivorship claims of the resident’s son, remanding them for further proceedings.
In reaching its conclusions, the panel disagreed with the lower court’s reasoning that certain of the plaintiff’s claims qualified as medical in nature and that therefore the statute of limitations on those claims had passed. The appellate panel found, to the contrary, that the defendant companies—HCR ManorCare Inc., HCR ManorCare Services LLC, Heartland Employment Services LLC, and Heartland of Springfield LLC—are in the business either of operating nursing homes or of providing custodial care to the elderly, operations that do not provide a sufficient basis for the plaintiff’s claims to be qualified as “medical”. Since under Ohio law non-medical claims have can be brought for a longer time period than medical claims, the appellate court ruled, the plaintiff’s survivorship claims were not barred under the statute of limitations.
The appellate panel also rejected the nursing home companies’ contention that the lower court jury had been improperly prejudiced by statements made by plaintiff’s counsel to the effect that the defendant companies had “killed” the deceased resident. The panel ruled that defendants had not properly contested the statement at the time and had not proposed to the court any jury instructions aimed at remedying the alleged prejudice, pointing out that a court does not have an affirmative duty to issue corrective jury instructions where such has not been requested by one of the parties.
“Courts are not required to give limiting instructions unless they are requested to do so,” wrote the panel, according to Law360.