Boca Raton Nursing Home Seeks to Conceal Wrongful Death Lawsuit by Enforcing Unsigned Arbitration Agreement
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (November 18, 2016) A wrongful death lawsuit alleging abuse and neglect of an 87 year old resident at Regents Park nursing home in Boca Raton is delayed as the facility tries to move the case out of open court, arguing the suit must be resolved in a private, closed-door arbitration. The deceased resident, Marilyn Ross, never signed an arbitration agreement and her family is demanding justice in a public court of law.
Nursing Home abuse attorney Michael Brevda from Domnick Cunningham & Whalen, representing the family of Marilyn Ross, denies that his client can be bound by the arbitration agreement due to several inconsistencies that invalidate the document. The most glaring issue cited in litigation is that the document was not signed by Marilyn Ross, but rather by her daughter who is not Ms. Ross’s legal guardian or power of attorney. Further, the “Signature of Legal Guardian, if any” section was left blank along with several other signature block sections, yet all are signed by a witness from the facility. “The fact that an agreement is provided pre-signed by a witness is beyond egregious and truly questions the lawfulness and ethics of the agreement,” Brevda stated. ‘Regents Park sought to conceal their neglect and mistreatment of Ms. Ross from her family, and is now attempting to conceal it from the public.”
Marilyn Ross was re-admitted to Regents Park on March 16, 2015 and was admitted and assessed as a high risk for falls, requiring extensive assistance with walking and supervision with toileting. Despite these directives for her care, four days after her admission, she suffered a fall and was found on the floor by staff, yet proper fall precautions were still not put in place. Several days later, she suffered another fall, and the staff concealed the incident from her family and doctors, and failed to treat her injuries. Ms. Ross complained of pain from her fall, but her caregivers dismissed her complaints and told her daughter that her comments were a misunderstanding caused by Mrs. Ross’s dementia. Finally, her daughter, seeing her mother’s pain, took her to Boca Regional where she was hospitalized. Doctors at the hospital confirmed that she had a fractured spine as a result of a recent fall. The nursing home now concedes that the patient did suffer a fall that was not immediately reported by staff.
Arbitration in nursing home cases is controversial as these clauses are often embedded in the fine print of nursing home admissions contracts. By forcing litigants into arbitration, these provisions serve to hide disputes about negligence and elder abuse out of public view. Earlier this year, the federal government issued a rule that bars any nursing home that receives federal funding from using “pre-dispute” arbitration contracts, in which incoming residents unwittingly sign away their rights to take the facility to traditional court in the event of a dispute, even in cases of the most severe neglect and abuse. The new rule will go into effect on November 28. However, the rule only applies to future contracts and therefore does not deter Regents Park from seeking to shield their mistreatment of a patient from the public.
The negligent and substandard care provided by the nursing home led Ms. Ross down a painful road that plagued her until her death on January 29, 2016. Regents Park attempted to conceal their mistreatment of Ms. Ross and is continuing to avoid accountability by hiding their bad acts behind the veil of an unenforceable arbitration agreement. The motion to compel hearing that will determine if Ms. Ross’s family has the right to seek justice is currently being scheduled.