The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law has completed its hearing on H.R. 6126, the "Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008," sponsored by the committee chairman, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). The bill would render pre-dispute arbitration clauses in long-term care contracts invalid.
Written testimony is now posted online, with three witnesses lauding the legislation -- including a fair dose of emotional appeals -- and one supporting the value of arbitration.
- William J. Hall, AARP, Washington.
- Linda Stewart R.N., Houston, TX.
- Gavin J. Gadberry, Esq., Underwood, Wilson, Berry, Stein and Johnson, PC, Amarillo, TX.
- Ken Conner, Esq., Wilkes & McHugh, P.A., Washington, D.C.
Gadberry represented the American Health Care Association (news release) and the National Center for Assisted Living. He testified:
Unfortunately, this debate is colored by anecdotes and misinformation perpetuated by high-profile trial attorneys who traditionally oppose any effort to bring balance to the personal injury playing field, and who give too little consideration to the harmful consequences on the long term care industry that follow from the high transaction costs of traditional litigation and the resulting financial drain on the system. In fact, Mr. Connor's testimony of October 2007 before this same subcommittee inaccurately portrayed the manner in which arbitration agreements are presented to perspective residents and their families upon admission to the facility. While we agree that entering into a nursing facility or assisted living residence often is a time of uncertainty and apprehension, Mr. Connor's notion that family members are threatened into signing the arbitration agreement is simply untrue.
As noted in this earlier post, arbitration is under a multipronged attack in Congress, with nursing home the initial targets.
UPDATE (8:04 p.m.): How coincidental. This evening on Baltimore TV Channel 54 -- after Family Guy reruns -- there was an ad from the Cochran Firm soliciting litigation against nursing homes. The firm's website doesn't mention that as an area of legal expertise.