Another Blow to Nursing-Home Arbitration Agreements

Norton v. United Health Services of Georgia, Inc., — S.E.2d — (Ga.App.2016), 2016 WL 802948

Georgia’s Court of Appeals has recently held that an arbitration agreement between a nursing home and its resident does not prevent the resident’s family from filing an independent suit against the home for the resident’s wrongful death.

In the case at bar, the arbitration agreement expressly provided that it will apply to wrongful-death beneficiaries as well, but there was no evidence that those beneficiaries joined the agreement. Because the beneficiaries’ independent claims against the nursing home never belonged to the resident, the court refused to compel arbitration. The beneficiaries’ independent claims, however, are limited. They include the loss of consortium, grief, and (if any) pecuniary losses based on the projected duration of the decedent’s life.

For my discussion of a similar decision, Boler v. Security Health Care, L.L.C., 336 P.3d 468 (Okla. 2014), see http://www.steinmedicalmalpractice.com/another-blow-to-nursing-home-arbitration-agreements/.