IS THAT ETHICAL? IS IT LEGAL?
Well – I heard an interesting story today. A nursing home refusing to take a patient back into their care (re-admission) unless the family signed an arbitration agreement. Do you know what an arbitration agreement is? It is a binding contract wherein one party agrees to waive their right to a trial in state or federal court – and agrees if they have any legal claims, they will be filed in Arbitration.
Why does this upset me? Well, for a many reasons, only a few of which I will discuss:
1. If you refuse to pay your nursing home bill – the Nusing home is NOT bound by the arbitration agreement. Oh no, they take you to Court to get unpaid bills – so they don’t waive their right to access local courts or ask for a jury trial.
2. Filing a lawsuit in state Court is usually less than $200 – to file in arbitration – it is 2 or 3 times as much – just to file the suit, and that doesn’t include the price of the arbitrator. Judges, paid by the state – are essentially free once you have paid the filing fees.
3. Lawsuit – you are entitled to a jury of your peers. In arbitration – you get one person, deciding everything.
So – what the facility is saying, essentially, is – “If you don’t give up your civil rights and access to the judicial system” – then “we won’t take care of grandpa.” Wow – now thats a nice thing to say, especially around Thanksgiving when Grandpa is already in a bed, hooked up and resting for the night. Clearly – I don’t think that type of strong armining is ethical – but is it legal?
Yes. If the print is in bold – and its explained sufficiently in the paperwork, it is legal.
By the way, Have a Great Thanksgiving!