Judge: Arbitration agreement binds woman who sued facility

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A North Carolina appellate court found that a woman who sued a long-term care facility for negligence and the wrongful death of her husband is bound by an arbitration provision in an agreement she signed on behalf of her husband.

Melba F. Raper signed the Residency and Services Admission Agreement at Oliver House knowing that the arbitration provision was contained in the agreement, according to Judge John Marsh Tyson of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The ruling reversed a decision by a state trial court, which found the arbitration provision to be "unconscionable and unenforceable."

For a contract or any of its provisions to be "unconscionable," there must be a lack of choice on behalf of one of the parties and unfavorable contract terms to the other party, Tyson said. Nursing home arbitration agreements have been the subject of many court decisions in recent months.