West Virginia's Nursing Home Arbitration Hearing Gets Passed Down
On June 6th, 2012, there was an arbitration hearing on the case of Jeffrey Taylor, Sharon Marchio, and Clayton Brown versus the Marmet Health Care Center, Clarksburg Continuous Care Center, and Clarksburg Nursing Home & Rehabilitation Center. All cases allege that negligence caused the deaths of their loved ones. There was a contract signed that also establishes a clause in which all parties to arbitrate the disputes.
The History of the Contract Arbitration
State courts initially decided to dismiss the cases of Taylor and Brown. This was due to their decision to arbitrate. Eventually, the cases were merged by the West Virginia Supreme Court.
On February 21st, opinion made a statement that goes as follows "The state court held that as a matter of public policy under West Virginia law, an arbitration clause in a nursing home admission agreement adopted prior to an occurrence of negligence that results in a personal injury or wrongful death, shall not be enforced to compel arbitration of a dispute concerning the negligence." Supreme court has claimed this was decided based on "misreading and disregarding the precedents of this court interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act."
The June 6th Legal Arbitration Hearing
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs used the argument of an impossibility factor due to the fact that the arbitrator chosen for the case would not take it. Due to this, the attorneys argued that the agreement to arbitrate was null in void. They also stated that the residents of the nursing homes are generally unknowing of the fact that they have given up the right to sue nursing homes.
Opposing arbitration attorneys argued that neither Taylor or Brown were stressed or made to sign the contract and that Taylor did not question the contract at the signing.
The plaintiff's counsel states in argument that while there is a clause that residents cannot sue the nursing homes, the nursing homes can sue the residents. When questioned about it, Marmet's attorneys explains that there are times when they must make a patient leave through legal channels which include suing.