A Kentucky judge is siding with one resident’s family in a dispute over whether an unsigned arbitration agreement is valid.

In his ruling, Judge David Hale, with the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, noted that an unendorsed July 2016 agreement stated that it “supersedes any prior admission contracts regarding your admission” to the nursing home. Golden LivingCenter Hillcreek, meanwhile, contended that two previous arbitration pacts with resident Robert Bramer and his executor, Margaret Bramer, should have held sway.

“The act of signing is required to bind the parties to the agreement,” Hale wrote in his disagreement. “By choosing not to sign the July 2016 arbitration agreement, Margaret and Robert chose not to submit to arbitration and to retain their ability to litigate the issues in court.”  

The case in question relates to the 2016 death of Robert Bramer at the nursing home formerly known as Golden LivingCenter Hillcreek. After admission into the Kentucky facility, Bramer reportedly fell out of bed, sustaining a severe blow to his skull, causing brain bleeding that eventually led to his death a few weeks later. Margaret Bramer subsequently sued the nursing home, alleging wrongful death.