On October 14, 2015, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) held a press conference with former U.S. Representative Henry Waxman to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to protect seniors’ rights by banning forced arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. The press conference caught the attention of NPR reporter Ina Jaffe who filed a report that ran on All Things Considered.
In her report, “Suing a Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules,” Jaffe interviewed AAJ member Mark Kosieradzki, who represented the family of Dean Cole. Cole was admitted to a nursing home after his dementia made it too difficult for his aging wife to care for him at home. “Within a little over two weeks, he’d lost 20 pounds and went into a coma. He’d become totally dehydrated,” Kosieradzki said. Cole never recovered and died within the month.
The nursing home admission contract Dean’s wife signed contained a buried forced arbitration clause that required her case to be heard by three private arbitrators. The ATC story highlighted the injustice Cole’s wife experienced because of the forced arbitration clause.
New York Times Also Runs Series on Forced Arbitration
Two weeks later, forced arbitration became the focus of the front page of The New York Times. The paper dedicated 15,000 words spread out over a three-part investigative series entitled, “Beware the Fine Print.” The series explored the history of forced arbitration and used dozens of examples of how corporations, nursing homes, and even churches are compromising people’s rights.
Many of the stories featured in the NYT series are also featured in the AAJ’s Take Justice Back campaign, and culminated in an editorial from the Times which said, “In recent years, America’s corporations have created a private system for handling disputes that benefits them greatly while denying consumers their day in court.”
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