Unconscionable Arbitration

 “To invalidate or bar enforcement of a contract based on unconscionability, the party challenging the contract must show both an absence of meaningful choice, also referred to as procedural unconscionability, and contract terms that are unreasonably favorable to the other party, known as substantive unconscionability.” 

The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a trial court’s finding that the arbitration agreement was “unconscionable”. The nursing home neglect case was against Highland Park Care Center nursing home. The arbitration agreement was signed by the deceased woman. However,  she was blind, on medication and in severe pain.

The resident was alone when she was asked to sign the arbitration agreement. The nursing home did not give her a chance to read it and other admission documents before signing. The facility even failed to provide a copy of the agreement after she signed. This failure prevented her from rescinding within 10 days the agreement as permitted.

The trial court also found that it was unconscionable that the agreement required the patient pay half of the costs of arbitration.

The Superior Court also found that requiring that a patient pay half of the costs of arbitration was unfair. It “unreasonably favors the nursing home and is sufficient to satisfy the requirement of substantive unconscionability where, as here, the record establishes that the resident was not given full information concerning her choices or any opportunity to inform herself.”