Two legal issues were addressed recently by the Iowa Supreme Court involving an arbitration clause in a nursing home contract and, if non-parties to the contract, have a right to a jury trial. Reaching their answer the Court goes through the history of wrongful death law in Iowa and who has the right to bring a claim when the death of a loved one is involved.

Recently arbitration clauses have been the subject of numerous articles and news reports.  These clauses can be found in everything from your cell phone contract, real estate contracts and nursing home agreements.  They extinguish your right to have your grievance heard in the courts and instead your remedy is an arbitration panel.  The process can be cumbersome and expensive with unfamiliar rules and procedures.

In the Roth case, the decedent’s son, his legally appointed representative, elected to resolve any disputes involving his father through arbitration. After his father died a claim was brought against the nursing home alleging negligent care.  In addition the adult children brought a claim for the loss of their father, a loss of consortium claim. The issue was whether the adult children’s cause of action was also subject to the arbitration agreement.  If it was then there would no right to trial by jury.  Following a very detailed analysis the Iowa Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, held that the consortium claims of the adult children were not subject to the arbitration clause and could proceed in court.


Three members of the Iowa Supreme Court are standing for retention this year.  They deserve your vote. Each are thoughtful jurists whose ethics are above reproach. As a trial lawyer I do not always agree with decisions from the Supreme Court, or for that matter from our other courts. I do respect them. Without exceptions these jurists do what we ask of them, to resolve disputes and questions of law. They render fair and impartial decisions.  They answer difficult questions of law and fact. They do their job well.  PLEASE – remember to turn your ballot over and vote YES to retain our Iowa Judges.