Nursing home facilities have a responsibility to provide our loved ones with a certain level of care, support, and attention. When someone at a nursing home facility is injured due to neglect or intentional harm, the outcome is painful and devastating for the victim as well as the family. Arbitration forms are a common tool that these facilities use to try to ensure that these matters are subject to arbitration and not litigation. Fortunately, North Carolina law has made it clear that these agreements are not enforceable in some instances such as when the patient lacked appropriate mental capacity when executing the agreement. If you have concerns about the safety of your loved one living in a nursing home in North Carolina, reach out to the Charlotte nursing home abuse lawyers of Maurer Law as soon as possible.
In a recently filed case, the administrator of a decedent’s estate brought a claim alleging that the operators of a nursing home facility were negligent in providing the decedent care and that he died as a result. The plaintiff in the case, the decedent’s son in law, was named as the decedent’s power of attorney. The complaint included claims for negligence, medical negligence, and corporate negligence among other things. In response to the complaint, the defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration that it later withdrew. The defendants eventually filed another motion to stay the legal proceeding and compel arbitration. The court eventually denied the motion finding that the defendants acted inconsistently in regard to the arbitration agreement and that to allow it to pursue arbitration at this stage would cause undue prejudice to the plaintiff. The defendant promptly appealed the lower court’s decision.
On appeal, the court first noted that public policy favors arbitration because it is an efficient use of judicial resources and allows for the quick resolution of legal disputes. It then reviewed the record and noted that the defendants acted inconsistently regarding the supposed arbitration agreement. In addition to withdrawing the first motion to compel arbitration, defendants’ attorney sent an email to plaintiff’s counsel indicating that the defendants did not intend to move forward with the motion. Although it later reasserted the motion, the plaintiff had incurred expenses in the meantime in the form of litigation fees and related costs. More than 15 months had passed since the defendants first withdrew the motion and asserted it again. The plaintiff also took actions like hiring seven expert witnesses, traveling to attend hearings and other case-related matters, and preparing for deposition, and taking depositions. As a result, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration.