Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court decided a case that may have a major effect on nursing home claims throughout the United States. In Kindred Nursing Centers, L.P. v. Clark, the court held that state courts cannot adopt rules that single out arbitration agreements for negative treatment.
In the case, two individuals each held a power of attorney respectively for their relatives, who were nursing home residents. When the relatives moved into the nursing home, the family members signed arbitration agreements on behalf of the residents at the same nursing home. After both of the residents died, their estates sued the nursing home, alleging that the home had been negligent in caring for them. The nursing home tried to force the plaintiffs into arbitration, claiming they had agreed to settle their claims through arbitration, according to the agreements.
Kentucky’s Supreme Court found that the family members could not enter into the agreements on behalf of the residents because the residents had not expressly given permission for the plaintiffs to do so. The Kentucky Supreme Court did not give effect to the arbitration agreements because it decided that in the case of arbitration agreements, an individual must specifically waive his constitutional right to a jury trial.