The seventh amendment grants citizens access to a trial by jury in civil cases, and prevents a judge from overturning the jury’s decisions, but many patients admitted to nursing homes unknowingly forfeit this right.
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It is very important for victims to have a nursing home abuse attorney if they are to have any chance at a fair settlement or verdict. The family of a Kentucky man who died as a result of nursing home neglect received a 42 million dollar jury verdict. In many cases that can be brought to trial, the nursing home will settle out of court out of fear of such a verdict from a jury.
The issue is that many nursing homes are having their patients sign an arbitration agreement upon admittance. Most of the families don’t read all of the paperwork that they sign. This arbitration agreement means that the patient or their family members cannot take the nursing home to trial in the event of wrongdoing. Arbitration is usually confidential, and many times the arbitrators are connected to the nursing home. This makes it nearly impossible for the families to seek justice.
Scott Barrow decided to fight the system when his mother died at the hands of her roommate. Mrs. Barrow’s roommate was deemed a danger to herself and others. When Mrs. Barrow was killed by her roommate, Mr. Barrow was told that he couldn’t take the case to trial, because he signed an arbitration agreement when he signed the papers to have his mother admitted to the home. During the course of arbitration, Mr. Barrow’s team of nursing home abuse attorneys discovered the firm that was handling the arbitration had handled over 400 arbitration cases for the nursing home’s attorneys. Arbitrators are supposed to be impartial, but many times they are biased. The arbitration firm said that the nursing home had done nothing wrong.
His nursing home abuse attorneys challenged the agreement on the basis that Mr. Barrow was his mother’s health proxy, meaning that he could make medical decisions on her behalf, but that he didn’t have the legal authority to sign an arbitration agreement. A judge ruled in favor of Mr. Barrow’s argument allowing him to file a wrongful death suit against the nursing home. This sets the stage for many other families to get justice for their loved ones.