Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Fighting for Those Severely Injured and Swindled by Arbitration Agreements

Recently, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania allowed the Superior Court decision in Pisano v. Extendicare Homes to stand, which maintained that a person residing at a nursing home may sign a binding arbitration agreement to keep claims on his behalf out of the court system but still allowed the deceased’s family a right to a trial through its Wrongful Death Action. Many times, businesses make contracts for consumers which require consumers to give up their right to a trial and force them to settle their legal matters through binding arbitration. Sadly, the people signing these contracts are seldom aware of the binding arbitration provisions and that they are giving up their right to a trial. The Trial Lawyers at Villari, Lentz and Lynam have a history of successfully getting binding arbitration agreements declared null and void, ensuring victims their right to a jury trial.

One such example is Ostroff v. Alterra Healthcare Corporation. In this case, an elderly woman suffered personal injuries by the conduct of the nursing home which she was residing at. When the woman was first moving into the facility, her daughter, acting legally on her behalf, was told to sign a Residency Agreement before her mother could officially reside at the facility. While the daughter wished to have the lengthy agreement looked over by an attorney before signing it, employees of the nursing home told her that it would be pointless to have an attorney review the Residency Agreement because the defendant would not accept any changes. This compelled the daughter to sign the agreement, which included a binding arbitration agreement.

After a lawsuit was commenced seeking justice for the elderly woman’s injuries, the nursing home tried to use the binding arbitration clause in the signed agreement as a means to keep the woman’s case outside of the traditional court system. However, the woman’s attorney, Thomas Lynam, claimed that the binding arbitration clause should not be considered, because the Residency Agreement was signed under “unconscionable” circumstances. Under the theory of unconscionability, provisions of a contract may be thrown out if the person agreeing to the provision lacked the knowledge and bargaining power to properly consent to the contract’s terms. A showing of unconscionability is quite complicated and requires more or less a showing of both procedural and substantive unconscionability. In part, this is why proving unconscionability is one of the most difficult legal theories to prove in contract law. However, this daunting task did not faze Mr. Lynam, who was able to prove to the court that the circumstances surrounding the signing of the Residency Agreement was, in fact, unconscionable! As a result of Mr. Lynam’s tenacity and legal acumen, the binding arbitration clause was disregarded and the elderly woman was able to assert her constitutional right to a trial.

The world of tort and negligence law often includes the necessity to know many other areas of law. The Trial Lawyers at Villari, Lentz and Lynam have the vast knowledge, experience and know-how to optimize your opportunity for success.

References:

Ostroff v. Alterra Healthcare Corporation, 433 F. Supp. 2d 538 (E.D.Pa. 2006).

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