Indiana arbitration agreements are commonplace, and many people agree to the terms without fully understanding what arbitration entails. Arbitration is an out-of-court method to resolve disputes among parties. It is designed to cut costs and allow the parties to reach an agreement without a trial. However, arbitration clauses generally favor the businesses that include them in their contracts. And it is important to know that there are instances where an arbitration agreement is not valid, or arbitration is not appropriate.
For example, in a recent opinion, a state appellate court addressed issues that commonly arise in Indiana nursing home lawsuits where a defendant is trying to compel arbitration. According to the court’s opinion, a nursing facility attempted to compel arbitration after a plaintiff asserted claims of negligence, willful misconduct, elder abuse, and wrongful death against the facility. The plaintiff’s mother was suffering from various ailments and required nursing home care. When the woman entered the facility, the plaintiff signed but did not date an arbitration agreement. Sometime after her admittance, the woman was transferred to a hospital where doctors discovered, among other things, that her leg required amputation. Sadly, the woman died shortly after. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit claiming that the nursing home withheld care, and recklessly disregarded her mother’s health and safety. The nursing home tried to compel arbitration based on the admittance contract.
The defendant argued that arbitration was appropriate because a facility representative witnessed the mother provide the daughter with express authority to sign the agreement on her behalf. The daughter countered that the facility fabricated the circumstances surrounding the execution of the contract. She explained that her mother did not provide her with authorization to sign the agreement on her behalf, and she was not in the room during admittance. Ultimately, the court concluded that the agreement was both procedurally invalid and substantively unconscionable.