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California County Court Denies Good Samaritan’s Petition to Compel Arbitration

California County Court Denies Good Samaritan’s Petition to Compel Arbitration

On June 24, 2022, a San Joaquin County judge denied Good Samaritan Rehabilitation and Care Center’s Petition to Compel Binding Arbitration due to the persuasive arguments of the Peck Law Group.

The Peck Law Group pointed out that this nursing home failed to comply with a California Health and Safety Code Section 1599.61(a) along with California Code or Regulations, Title 22, Section 72516. It was also brought to light that the arbitration agreement did not legally comply with a Title 42 CFR Section 483.70(n) of the Code of Federal Regulations which govern Binding Arbitration agreements with Nursing Homes. 

The plaintiff, Stormy L. Urquhart, is the daughter of a late resident of the care facility, Richard Warden. Warden was admitted to Good Samaritan as a resident in August of 2021. During the admissions process, Warden signed an arbitration agreement together with his daughter. Per the official documents, this agreement was signed by Warden, individually, and Urquhart as a “the responsible party.” 

Warden resided at Good Samaritan until November 2021, when he passed away.

Urquhart alleged that the cause of his death, a fall, was due to inadequate care by the nursing home facility’s staff. Urquhart also alleged dependent adult abuse, negligence, violation of residents’ rights, and wrongful death in a lawsuit brought on their behalf by the Peck Law Group.

Thereafter, Good Samaritan petitioned the San Joaquin County Superior Court to compel binding arbitration, which petition, if granted, would ultimately deny Urquhart and the family their Constitutional right to a Jury Trial.

When Good Samaritan was served with the complaint, they attempted to meet and confer with the Peck Law Group, for an agreement to litigate this matter through the auspices of Binding Arbitration. The Peck Law Group would not agree to binding arbitration on behalf of their client.

Litigation against large care facilities like Good Samaritan can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally debilitating. Luckily, Urquhart understood the risks and implications of going to court, and chose the Peck Law Group to guide her and her family through the process.

The Peck Law Group wasted no time getting to the bottom of the problem.

They helped determine that the arbitration agreement was invalid for a few different reasons. First, they argued that the California Health and Safety Code Section 1599.61(a) along with California Code or Regulations, Title 22, Section 72516 were violated.

Secondly, the agreement did not include information about which procedural rules applied. Lastly, since Urquhart only signed the agreement as a “responsible party”, she was not legally individually bound to the arbitration agreement.

The Peck Law Group was also able to support arguments that Power of Attorney documents appointing Urquhart as agent were invalid. Then, they attacked the arbitration agreement, citing that it was not compliant with both California and Federal law governing Nursing Homes and Nursing Home Binding Arbitration Agreements.

As a failsafe, the Peck Law Group also requested that the court must exercise its right to deny the petition pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1281.2(c).

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Peck Law Group, the court ruled in favor of Urquhart.

The court agreed that the California Health and Safety Code was violated. The California Code states that there must be an advisory near the top of the arbitration agreement in bold in not less than 12 point font that specifically states that signing the arbitration agreement is not a prerequisite for care. 

Upon reviewing the arbitration agreement, it was found that the specific language required in the binding Arbitration Agreement, was only found in the second paragraph of the arbitration agreement, instead of at the top as legally required, and it was not placed in bold-faced font as also legally required.

Additionally, the court agreed that the Federal Code of Regulations was violated. Federal law states that a nursing home facility must ensure that “the resident or his representative acknowledges that he or she understands the agreement”.  The court concluded that there is no evidence / documentation to support that either Warden or Urquhart acknowledged that they understood the agreement they signed.

Arbitration agreements are often used in the long-term care facility industry as a way to deny a resident their constitutional right to a jury trial. Through arbitration, these nursing homes can avoid costly litigation, damage to their reputation, and having to appear in court in front of a Jury.

Unfortunately, these agreements are totally biased towards long-term care facilities, which leaves residents and families with the denial of their constitutional rights.

State and Federal law places stringent rules around what can and can’t be included in such arbitration agreements. Since binding arbitration denies the resident and / or their family their constitutional right to a jury trial, it is up to law firm like the Peck Law Group to bring it to the attention of the judicial system to advocate for the illegalities of these binding arbitration agreements.

The Peck Law Group stands firm in their defense for clients who deserve justice for themselves and their family members. They believe that when you or a loved one is placed in a care facility, you should feel safe and confident that you will be taken care of.

As a firm dedicated to their clients, the Peck Law Group ensures that no stone is left unturned. This tenacity led them to uncovering legal missteps in Good Samaritan’s agreement that ultimately resulted in its invalidity.

When a facility fails to maintain an acceptable level of care, litigation is sometimes necessary.

The Peck Law Group proved that they won’t back down from nursing home facilities and instead work very hard to advocate for those who have been wrongfully injured. After all, state and federal laws are created to protect citizens from being taken advantage of, silenced, or wronged.

In cases like these, we are reminded that in the face of wrongdoing, the Court must make fair and just decisions.

The bottom line is this: a daughter who lost her father will not be legally bound to the care facility binding arbitration and may now pursue Court litigation to determine the validity of their claims.

Thanks to the Peck Law Group, Urquhart will have the chance to pursue the constitutional right to a jury trial and attempt to get justice for her father’s injuries and wrongful death.

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorney Steven Peck

About the Author

Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.

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