I have another nursing home neglect case in which a nursing home (this time Magnolia Place of Greenville) has required a potential resident to waive her right to a jury trial in order to be admitted. The nursing home industry has been hit hard by lawsuits for negligence that result in serious injury to their elderly residents. So, instead of improving care, the industry has instead attempted to force residents to give up their right to a jury trial. The problem is that there are a limited number of nursing home beds in our state. The number of beds available to poor South Carolinians are even more limited. So, families, who are without meaningful choices to begin with, are forced to choose between skilled nursing care and their constitutional rights.
Hopefully, the Congress will come to the aid of the elderly and their families. The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009 is currently pending in both chambers of Congress. The bills would prohibit nursing homes from requiring residents to agree to pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses. The present state of care in nursing homes is already something you wouldn’t wish on your love one if you had a choice, and allowing nursing homes to prevent judges and juries from holding them responsible when they cause death or serious injury to their residents is simply bad public policy.