W.Va. Supreme Court Rules on Nursing Home Arbitration Cases
July 7, 2011
On June 29, the West Virginia Supreme Court decided that arbitration agreements in three nursing home health care cases was “unconscionable and unenforceable.” The plaintiffs alleged that the nursing home “negligently” caused a resident’s death. However, each plaintiff had signed an admission agreement containing an arbitration clause stating that any legal dispute dealing with the health care provider would be referred to arbitration.
The ruling ultimately determined that the Federal Arbitration Act did not apply to pre-injury contracts where the injury occurs after the signing of the contract. The ruling states, “In essence, our constitution recognizes that factual disputes should be decided by juries of lay citizens rather than paid, professional fact-finders (arbitrators) who may be more interested in their fees than the disputes at hand.”