Recently, we reported on the new rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that bars nursing homes from requiring residents to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of their admission to the nursing home. These forced arbitration agreements prevented nursing home residents and their family members from filing a lawsuit against the nursing home when the resident was neglected and injured or killed.
Pre-dispute, forced arbitration agreements prevent the victims from enforcing their right to a jury trial and instead, require that their claims be decided by a single arbitrator. By banning pre-dispute arbitration agreements, CMS effectively reinforced the right to a jury trial granted to all citizens by the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Now, the nursing home industry has filed a lawsuit against CMS in a desperate attempt to overturn the new rule. The lawsuit challenges CMS’ rule prohibiting nursing homes’ use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements, which are designed to avoid accountability when nursing homes abuse and neglect residents. As attorneys who have represented victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes and their family members since the 1990s, we can tell you that these cases are far too common. Instead of working to provide better care to nursing home residents, the nursing home industry chose to file a lawsuit in a last-ditch attempt to be able to continue to use pre-dispute arbitration agreements. It is ironic that the nursing home industry has filed a lawsuit that seeks to deprive residents and their family members of their right to file a lawsuit when a resident is injured or killed as a result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home. That is the textbook definition of hypocrisy.