Earlier this month, the Arkansas Court of Appeals issued a written opinion that will be of interest to any putative personal injury plaintiff who signed an arbitration agreement. In the case, Rita v. Gruber, the court held that, although the selected forum mentioned in the arbitration agreement contained in a nursing home admission contract was unavailable, the fact that the parties had agreed to arbitrate means that the plaintiff’s claim must proceed through arbitration.
In 2009, the plaintiff helped her father find housing with the defendant nursing home. The plaintiff had power of attorney for her father, and prior to his admission into the defendant nursing home, the plaintiff signed an admission contract. Contained in the contract was a clause agreeing to submit any future claims to arbitration through the National Arbitration Forum (NAF).
In October 2013, the plaintiff’s father died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. In turn, the plaintiff filed medical malpractice and negligence claims against the nursing home. By this time, the NAF was no longer available to take consumer arbitration cases because the NAF was found to have violated several consumer-protection laws when arbitrating claims and another state had suspended the NAF’s ability to take on new cases.