Court rules arbitration 'unconscionable'

Share this content:

The Third District Court of Appeals ruled an arbitration agreement signed by a daughter as her father was being transported to a nursing home is unenforceable. The decision opens the door for the daughter to sue over claims of negligence and wrongful death.
Despite the fact that the arbitration provision was printed in bold, large letters, the appeals court said it was "unconscionable" because it was never explained to the daughter.
In addition, the court found that the agreement's provisions encroached on rights granted under the state's Nursing Home Resident's Rights Act.
Lourdes Prieto filed suit as representative of the state of her father, Valentin Perez, who acquired a fatal urinary tract infection in October 2001 at a facility owned by Retirement Corporation of America.
The facility's arbitration and limitation of liability agreement called for arbitration of any claims. It allowed recovery of net economic damages but capped non-economic damages at $250,000. And it did not allow punitive damages or recovery of attorney costs. The agreement limited investigative actions plaintiffs could take.
Although the family had a three-day period to review and rescind any signed documents, the appeals court ruled that the facility's procedures were insufficient, in part, because the arbitration portion was amid "numerous documents" the daughter was asked to sign.
The full decision can be found at www.3dca.flcourts.org/3d03
3244.pdf.