Court: Mental incapacitation not a factor in signing nursing home arbitration agreement

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Florida federal judge rules healthcare reform law unconstitutional
Florida federal judge rules healthcare reform law unconstitutional

A Kentucky federal court ruled Monday that an arbitration agreement signed by a nursing home resident is enforceable, even though the 74-year-old woman said she suffered from a major mental disorder.

The woman, Christine Abell, brought a suit against Life Care Center of Bardstown alleging negligence, gross negligence, wanton conduct, intentional conduct and disregard for her safety. Abell argued that she was mentally incapacitated when she was admitted, but the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky found that she was unable to demonstrate that age, sickness, extreme distress, or debility of the body invalidated her signature on the arbitration form, according to the Bureau of National Affairs.

While a pre-admission screening detected a “major mental disorder,” there was not proof to show that this prohibited Abell from understanding what she signed, the court stated.

“The record does not show either that she had an irrational state of mind or that she lacked the requisite mental capacity to execute the Agreement,” Judge John G. Heyburn wrote. The case was dismissed without prejudice.