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Florida Supreme Court Throws Out Arbitration Agreement in Medical Malpractice Case

Posted on June 26, 2013

In a 5-2 vote, the Florida Supreme Court has tossed an arbitration agreement signed by a patient who later died of complications following a hernia surgery. The widow of the patient claimed that she should not have to submit to arbitration in her medical malpractice claim because the medical facility’s arbitration document was not legal.

The medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys at the law offices of Farah & Farah in Jacksonville have been following the Florida Supreme Court rulings concerning arbitration agreements with great interest.

Just this past April, the justices ruled against the daughter of man who died in a Leesburg nursing home. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit and claimed that she was not bound by the arbitration agreement her father had signed. The court ruled against her, saying that an arbitration agreement signed by her deceased father was still enforceable, even though he was dead and she had never signed the document.

In this most recent case, the Court Majority found that the arbitration agreement in question violated Florida’s “public-policy.” In other words, the arbitration agreement conflicted with current state medical-malpractice laws.

Under state law “non-economic damages” (such as damages for pain and suffering) could have run as high as $1 million in this medical malpractice case. The agreement signed by the deceased had capped those damages at $250,000.

Justice Barbara Pariente, who sided with the majority, wrote in a concurring opinion that “this financial agreement forces the patient to forgo his or her right to pursue a claim in a court of law and limits the amount of recoverable damages — without requiring the defendant to admit liability or give up any other rights in return.”

Even if you or a loved one signed an arbitration agreement at a medical facility or nursing home, it doesn’t mean you have signed your legal rights away. That is why it is essential that you contact the law firm of Farah & Farah if you believe that you, or somebody you love, has been the victim of medical malpractice.

Do you have questions about your case? Call us at (800) 533-3555. Or contact us online for a free, no-obligation review of your case.