Folks who attempt to bring lawsuits against nursing homes that are at fault for wrongdoing causing injuries and deaths to residents face a number of obstacles, including mandatory arbitration clauses and corporate structures that mask the ownership of facilities. The ownership and operation schemes to avoid liability have been described as a “corporate shell game.” We have learned about complex corporate setups that mask ownership to avoid legal responsibility for wrongdoing. David Cohen, a lawyer with Stark & Stark in Princeton, New Jersey, and who is chair-elect of the nursing home litigation section of AAJ, observed:
If you look carefully at the way the facility is established, there will be a contractual relationship between a management company and a nursing home, where the same human being is on both sides of the contract and the management company is being paid a disproportionately high amount of money compared to its services.
Mandatory arbitration clauses have become a major obstacle for victims of nursing home wrongdoing. Arbitration has no place in disputes involving care and treatment at a nursing home. As we have reported, there are a number of legislative developments in the nursing home area. The Nursing Home Arbitration Act, which would ban pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts, recently passed committees in both houses of Congress. Another recently introduced bill, the Nursing Home Transparency and Quality of Care Improvement Act (H.R. 7128) would improve reporting and transparency of nursing home ownership. The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a star-system to grade nursing homes and has released a compliance guide based on voluntary participation. Residents of nursing homes must be protected by government regulators. They and their families must also have access to the court system when wrongs occur and folks are hurt or killed.
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