A nursing home that allegedly killed one of its residents will have to defend itself in court, and not before a secret arbitral panel. Yesterday, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied review of a decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals that had rejected arbitration, adopting arguments made by CCL.

“Nursing homes cannot bury their dead in private. The victim’s family will have its day in court,” said CCL attorney John Vail, counsel for plaintiffs in the case.

The Court of Appeals had ruled that the unavailability of the discredited National Arbitration Forum (NAF) rendered the arbitration agreement unenforceable. Although the agreement between the victim and the nursing home did not designate NAF as the arbitrator, it did require that NAF’s rules be used in any arbitration.  CCL pointed out that the NAF rules provided that no one but NAF was allowed to use them, and that therefore there was no difference between this agreement and one that did designate NAF.

The NM Supreme Court had previously held that an agreement designating NAF as arbitrator was unenforceable because they had agreed with the Minnesota Attorney General not to administer consumer arbitrations after the Attorney General charged NAF with running a biased arbitral scheme. Yesterday’s denial of the nursing home’s petition for certiorari reaffirms that ruling.

Dusti Miller and Jennifer Foote of the Miller Law Firm in Albuquerque are co-counsel with CCL on the case.