Arbitration Fairness Bill Re-Introduced
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.
(D-GA) have re-introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 878; H.R. 1844) in
the 113th Congress. This important legislation would protect consumers by
barring the use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements, including the
use of these agreements in long-term care facility admission contracts.
Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements force consumers and their loved
ones to resolve any disputes that might arise regarding abuse, neglect or
inadequate care in a long-term care facility through an arbitration process as
opposed to a court of law. This denies consumers their constitutional right to
a trial by jury. These agreements have become increasingly common within
nursing home and other long-term care facility contracts. The Arbitration
Fairness Act would ban the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses in consumer
contracts and restore the rights of individuals and their loved ones to seek
justice in court.
Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements place consumers at a
distinct disadvantage during the nursing home admissions process. Consumers may
be forced into signing an arbitration agreement because refusing to do so would
require trying to find another facility right away, which is not always an option.
Moreover, arbitration agreements can often be buried within the fine print of
admission contracts and may go unnoticed by many consumers given the huge
amount of paperwork that must be signed during the admissions process.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right for such agreements to
be included under the Federal Arbitration Act, although states have begun to
demonstrate greater resistance to holding consumers liable for these
agreements. Most recently, the Illinois Supreme Court partially struck down the
enforceability of a nursing home pre-dispute arbitration clause in the case of Carter v. SSC Odin Operating Company,
LLC, in which the family of a deceased Illinois nursing home
resident sought to file a wrongful death claim against the facility in
Source/more: The Consumer VoiceTags: Arbitration Fairness Bill Re-Introduced