W.V. Court: Nursing Homes Can't Use Arbitration

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Supreme Court says nursing homes can't use arbitration to avoid lawsuits over residents' care.

In a unanimous opinion issued this week, the court says factual disputes should be decided by citizen juries, and not "paid, professional fact finders." Justice Menis Ketchum wrote the opinion for the court.

Nursing home residents or their families give up their right to sue when they sign a nursing home contract with a binding arbitration clause. An arbitrator's decision can't be appealed to the courts.

Ketchum wrote that nursing homes may give residents little, if any, notice about the clauses.

West Virginia Health Association CEO Patrick Kelly tells the Charleston Daily Mail that the ruling would increase nursing homes' cost of doing business.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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