Odin Nursing Home Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Whether Wrongful Death Lawsuit is Subject to Binding Arbitration

1038828_u_s__supreme_court_2%20sxchu%20username%20davidlat.jpgLast fall, the Illinois Supreme Court held that a binding arbitration agreement signed by the adult child of a deceased nursing home resident did not preclude the child from filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility. In the case, a woman filed a lawsuit seeking damages from an Odin long-term care facility following the death of her mother. According to the woman, her mother’s death resulted from the negligent care the deceased woman allegedly received at the facility. The Illinois high court held the child’s wrongful death case could proceed despite the existence of the agreement.

Although the United States Supreme Court recently instructed West Virginia’s high court to re-examine a similar case because the state court erroneously applied federal law, the Illinois court distinguished the two situations. According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois woman’s lawsuit was not based on the Federal Arbitration Act but instead on common law contract principles. The Illinois court stated the agreement to arbitrate did not preclude the lawsuit because the woman did not file the wrongful death case on her mother’s behalf. Instead, the court held she sought damages on behalf of the deceased woman’s next of kin. The Illinois Supreme Court then remanded the case for trial.

Following the Illinois high court’s decision, the nursing home reportedly asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. According to the facility, state supreme courts are currently divided regarding whether wrongful death claims are subject to binding arbitration where an agreement to arbitrate was in place. The nursing home allegedly believes the uniform Federal Arbitration Act has precluded state courts from allowing wrongful death trials to proceed where nursing home residents are required to sign an arbitral agreement prior to receiving care.

As loved ones age or become disabled, many families throughout Illinois turn to long-term care facilities for assistance. Sadly, it can be difficult to continuously monitor the quality of care your loved one receives in such an environment. Federal standards require nursing homes that receive federal Medicaid or Medicare funds to maintain each patient at the same level of health he or she exhibited upon entering the facility. If a resident’s condition worsens, the skilled nursing facility is required to work towards restoring the patient to his or her original condition. Too often, the neglect or abuse of a nursing home resident can have irreversible and fatal consequences. If you believe your friend or family member suffered neglect or abuse while a patient in an Illinois skilled nursing facility, you are advised to speak with a quality lawyer to discuss your concerns.

If your loved one died as a result of neglect or abuse while residing in an Illinois long-term care facility, you should give the dedicated attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 924-7575. Our experienced Chicago area nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers are available 24 hours per day to help you protect the rights of your elderly and disabled friends and family members. For a free consultation with a knowledgeable advocate, please contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.

Note: Abels & Annes, P.C. does not represent the victim’s family in the above mentioned lawsuit.

More Blogs:

Unattended Elderly Dementia Patient Goes Missing From New Athens Nursing Home, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, March 5, 2013
Caregiver at Batavia Assisted-Living Facility Accused of Stealing from Residents, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, March 3, 2013
Additional Resources:

Nursing home operator petitions Supreme Court to rule on arbitration in wrongful death cases, by Tim Mullaney, mcknights.com

Top state court says arbitration agreement doesn’t prevent family member from suing, by McKnight’s Staff, mcknights.com

Photo credit: davidlat, Stock.xchng