Two cases were recently brought to the Supreme Court of the United States to determine whether state court decisions to allow descendants of nursing home residents bring wrongful death lawsuits against the nursing home, when arbitration agreements were in effect, were valid. The Supreme Court declined to overturn the state court decisions to allow the family of the victims to bring suit.
According to McKnights, the nursing home position was that the family members bringing the wrongful death lawsuits could not rightfully sue because arbitration agreements written into (and signed off on by the parties) the contract were binding and parties to the contract could not sue in connection with the contract.
In the first court case, which was in front of the Illinois Supreme Court, the daughter of a nursing home resident brought a lawsuit after she believed her mother’s death was caused by the nursing home’s actions. The nursing home claimed that the daughter could not bring the lawsuit because she had signed the arbitration agreement in the contract. The state court found that since the daughter signed on behalf of her mother, as her representative that she was not actually a party to the contract (because her mother has and she was just acting on her behalf) and that the daughter could bring a lawsuit on her own behalf as a family member of the victim of wrongful death.