A9: Nursing homes say they should be able to ban suing

A9: Nursing homes say they should be able to ban suing

The battle is heating up over nursing homes and whether patients should be allowed to sue them.

Many nursing homes have fine print, banning residents from suing.  They make people sign paperwork, saying they'll only use arbitration, meaning no judge, jury or public trial.

Critics, like AARP, said this practice is wrong and that suing can be the best way to expose wrongdoing and combat "neglect, sexual assault, and wrongful death" in nursing homes.

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A new federal rule said if a nursing home gets federal funding, it can't block people from going to court.

The rule takes effect Nov. 28 but agreements signed before that date will still be valid.

The nursing home industry is fighting back by suing, ironically.

In a statement, one of the plaintiffs, the American Health Care Association told Action 9:

"We are taking this step to stop what is a clear overreach by [the government].  Federal law plainly prohibits [the government] from issuing this arbitration regulation.  The merits of allowing individuals in our centers and their families this legal remedy are clear: study after study shows that arbitration is fair and speeds judgments in a cost-effective manner that benefits those injured more than anyone else."

Others argued arbitration costs far less than court, saving both nursing homes and residents and their family’s money.

A woman Action 9 spoke with said her 93 year old mother-in law's nursing home didn't take care of her well.

"You could smell her body and let you know that she hadn't had a bath," she said. "I can tell that she hadn't had a bath, because her body was smelling so bad.  The dead skin was coming off her body.  She had sores on her butt."

She felt residents and their families should be able to sue.

“If you were doing your job, you wouldn't have to worry about me suing," she said.