What does Charlie Sheen have in common with a nursing home? They both include the word “arbitration” in their contracts.
This week, Charlie Sheen went on the Today show to discuss his status as a man who is HIV-positive. Among other details, it was revealed that Mr. Sheen required all of his houseguests to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect his privacy. If anyone broke the NDA, they would have to have the dispute settled by arbitration, not before a judge or jury.
An interesting article on Inc. magazine’s website talks about how arbitration clauses are becoming more common, and why they are bad for the average citizen. According to the article:
Set aside the weirdness of requiring anyone who comes to your home to sign an NDA. The arbitration provision takes cases out of the jury system, limits or removes the threat of punitive damages and–perhaps most important in the cases of people like Sheen–goes a long way toward keeping the record of events from becoming public.
Over the last 10 years, thousands of businesses across the country — from big corporations to storefront shops — have used arbitration to create an alternate system of justice. There, rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients, The Times found.
At HensonFuerst Attorneys, we believe that arbitration clauses are not good for most consumers. Watch for them in any contract you sign. But this is especially true of contracts for nursing homes, long term care facilities, hospitals, or other medical providers. When you are investigating potential care facilities for your loved ones, you should always check the fine print—Is there a mandatory arbitration clause? If so, then either refuse to sign that document as is, and ask to remove that clause (some facilities will allow you to strike the language, removing arbitration from the contract). Do not accept a verbal assurance that arbitration won’t apply to you–the only thing that matters is what is written in the contract.
If the facility won’t strike the arbitration clause, look for another one. A good facility should have nothing to fear.
HensonFuerst Attorneys handles cases of nursing home abuse. For more information, visit our website at www.lawmed.com, or call us at 1-800-4-LAWMED.