W.Va. nursing home cases returned to circuit court

CHARLESTON (AP) — The West Virginia Supreme Court has reaffirmed its ruling that nursing homes can be sued over care if the plaintiffs show that arbitration clauses in contracts are unconscionable.

But the high court on Wednesday reversed part of the July 2011 decision that found the Federal Arbitration Act didn’t apply to such clauses.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in February that the state court incorrectly interpreted the federal law.

The rulings stem from wrongful death lawsuits against two nursing homes in Kanawha and Harrison counties. Circuit courts had dismissed the cases because the nursing home residents had signed contracts with binding arbitration clauses.

Wednesday’s unanimous decision contains guidelines to determine whether such clauses are unconscionable, including hidden or unduly complex contract terms.

The cases were sent back to the circuit courts.

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