Tampa, FL asked in Contracts, Arbitration / Mediation Law and Elder Law for Florida

Q: Is this an arbitration clause and should I sign it? Received in my father's ALF paperwork.


And not by court action except as provided by Florida law for judicial review or arbitration proceedings.

Any court having appropriate jurisdiction may either judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrator(s). Filing a judicial action to enable a recording of the notice of pending action for order of attachment, receivership, injunction or other provisional remedies shall not constitute a waiver of the right to arbitrate under this paragraph.

Any claims or disputes with or against individuals employed by or associated with (Assisted Living) shall also be submitted to arbitrate under this provision.

I (we) hereby acknowledge that I (we) have read the entire contract Agreement and understand and agree to all the terms set forth herein, including but not limited the various releases and the arbitration clause.

...it continues, but more asks if I agree and understand the rest of the contract

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Arbitration & Mediation Lawyer
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: You are correct that it's an arbitration clause, requiring legal disputes to be resolved in an arbitration proceeding rather than a court. Certain businesses like such clauses in their contracts in order to have disputes resolved in a less costly fashion and to prevent claims from being submitted to juries. Most likely, if you were to say, "I'll take the deal except for the arbitration clause - cross that out", they'll say, "sorry, no deal" - and maybe that would be the case with most or all ALF's (which I have no personal knowledge of).

The most important part of an arbitration clause, for comparison purposes, is the part about who pays which costs. That can vary greatly by company. Some require all costs to be split 50/50, and some say that the company will pay the first $X of the costs, then split the costs 50/50 (just two examples of many ways of doing it). Once you get beyond the initial pleadings (claim demand) stage in arbitration, costs may run into a few or several thousand dollars to the arbitrator (or arbitration panel) for their time (whereas in a court case, you pay nothing to the court beyond court costs of a few hundred bucks). If a competitor company's contract has an arbitration clause that is more favorable to the customer as far as costs, perhaps that one portion of the clause would be negotiable. Elder law attorneys in your geographic area might have a good idea about "usual" clauses that ALF's in your area require.

Beyond the informal educational info I have provided above, there is no way to tell you whether it's a good idea to sign a particular contract without reviewing the entire contract.

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