29 Sep NURSING HOME ARBITRATION AGREEMENT HELD ONLY BINDING WHEN THERE IS PROPER AUTHORITY
It is common for nursing home admission agreements to indicate that the patient and nursing home are bound by arbitration – which generally results more favorable decisions for the nursing home (as opposed to litigation). Recently, the son of a patient (his mother) seeking entry to a nursing home signed an agreement that said the parties are bound by arbitration. However, his mother only gave him authority under a medical (not a financial) power of attorney and she lacked mental capacity when she entered the facility. The son had not gone to court to seek guardianship over his mother. After the mother was beaten and strangled to death by her 97 year old roommate, the son sued the facility. The nursing home argued she was bound by arbitration. However the court disagreed as they said he did not have authority when he entered into the arbitration agreement. As a planner, we often have language in powers of attorney indicating a lack of authority to be bound by arbitration agreements as a result of this and similar cases.