Neglected and Left Outside. Loved Ones Deserve Better.
Marjorie Fitzpatrick, 88, suffered from dementia, and as her disease progressed her family could no longer care for her on their own. When Marjorie’s daughter, Valerie, brought her mother to a nursing home, she was focused on making sure her mother was safe and comfortable, not on the admissions papers that were put in front of her. Page 12 of the 13 pages of admissions documents included a forced arbitration clause that forced Marjorie to surrender her right to go to court if she were injured or killed because of the nursing home’s actions.
Because of her advanced dementia, Marjorie depended on the nursing home staff for complete supervision and care. Like many residents suffering from dementia, Marjorie had a habit of trying to wander out of the nursing home. Staff were aware of this and in fact, on one day Marjorie tried to exit the home three times. That same evening, unsupervised, Marjorie exited the nursing home through an alarmed door which no one responded to. Later, a nurse came by and shut off the alarm without checking to see if anyone was outside.
Left alone outside, Marjorie fell down and fractured her wrist, nose and suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage – a stroke caused by bleeding in the space surrounding the brain. It was approximately 40 minutes before a staff member found her laying on the ground. Marjorie died of her injuries two weeks later.
Marjorie’s family wanted answers to the circumstances surrounding the fall, but received none. The nursing home destroyed a videotape showing such circumstances and withheld a report about the accident. Marjorie’s family is trying to hold the nursing home accountable in court, but the nursing home is trying to force them into arbitration.
Arbitration proceedings are not governed by the same rules as in a court proceeding, which are designed to ensure fairness and due process. Instead, arbitration is a secretive and often unfair proceeding that allows the nursing home to be shielded from public scrutiny. If Marjorie’s family are forced into arbitration, they may never find out the truth about what happened or obtain justice.