The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided 7-1 with a Kentucky nursing home in a closely watched case related to powers of attorney and arbitration agreements.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky previously ruled against Kindred Nursing Centers in a case related to wrongful death lawsuits. The daughters of two nursing home residents who had powers of attorney for their parents had signed arbitration agreements. The state court ruled against Kindred and suggested that power of attorney did not expressly give the representatives the ability to waive a loved one’s rights to jury trial.

Kindred petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider, stating that the state court’s decision violated the Federal Arbitration Act.  In Monday’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Kentucky court’s ruling for one of the wrongful death cases, citing the need to uphold the integrity of the act and its provisions. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan referenced the need to treat arbitration agreements and other contracts equally. Justice Clarence Thomas was the dissenter, saying the arbitration law should apply to federal and not state matters.

“Argentum is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision of holding arbitration agreements at the same level as other contracts,”  said James Balda, Argentum president and chief executive officer. “Argentum fully supports efforts to protect the ability of senior living residents and/or their legal representatives to make decisions regarding their care and preferences.”

Earlier this month, the Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference tackled the topic of arbitration agreements.  In a session, a panel of lawyers discussed the benefits that arbitration agreements offer residents and their families, including:

The presentations from the session “The Impact of Arbitration Agreements on Senior Living” are available online.

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