Arbitration Agreements and Financial Elder Abuse

Posted on December 11, 2009 by bermanstaff

Arbitration clauses are standard in many industries, and once accepted on an industry-wide basis, they become unavoidable and non-negotiable; one either agrees to arbitrate disputes or forgoes the desired or needed services.

 Each of us is affected by arbitration agreements in virtually every facet of our lives, but the elderly are particularly impacted by such agreements.  Whether contracting for long-term care, seeking care from a hospital, or entrusting their retirement assets to the management of a financial advisor, the elderly are asked to sign binding arbitration agreements that, unbeknownst to them, usually takes away rights guaranteed to the elderly by law.  Since 1992, the California Legislature has enacted a series of laws specifically designed to protect seniors who are victims of financial elder abuse.  Yet arbitration provisions wipe away these rights with merely a signature.

 In a ruling by the Sacramento County Superior Court, however, the plaintiff in an elder-financial-abuse case successfully defeated the defendant financial institution’s arbitration provisions, thereby allowing the plaintiff to avail herself of rights and remedies that her contract with the financial institution had specifically limited.  This ruling provides a blueprint for all elders who are victims of abuse—whether it be financial abuse, physical abuse, or neglect—to have their lawsuits resolved in a public forum, before a sympathetic jury, with all the rights and remedies the law provides.  Shortly after the ruling was issued, the California Court of Appeal, held that enforcing arbitration clauses against abused seniors violated California public policy.

 Berman & Riedel, LLP is a San Diego based law firm that represents victims of elder abuse and neglect throughout the state of California.  If you would like to speak with a nursing home attorney regarding the care an elderly loved one is receiving in a nursing home or other type of elder care facility, call Berman & Riedel, LLP today at (858) 350-8855.  Our staff will happily provide you and your family with an initial free consultation to discuss with you the rights you may have and financial compensation you may be entitled to under California and federal law.  To learn more about the firm’s elder abuse and neglect law practice, visit the page on preventing elder abuse.  For more information on how to properly file a complaint regarding care received by an elderly loved one visit the page on reporting elder abuse.


About Berman & Riedel, LLP firm managing partner attorney William M. Berman:

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Attorney William M. Berman focuses his practice in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death and elder abuse and neglect. Strictly a plaintiffs’ dedicated firm, he never represents insurance companies in the defense of claims. Mr. Berman’s firm remains staunchly committed to helping those who have suffered serious injury or loss due the negligence, intentional misconduct or wrongful acts of others. Mr. Berman has grown his firm to what is considered one of the largest and most successful elder abuse/neglect practices within California. Through his continued successes in handling claims involving nursing home and elder abuse and neglect, Mr. Berman remains a prominent figure in advocating on behalf of this vulnerable class of citizens.
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