“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” – C.S. Lewis
None of us like to be told we're wrong, that we're making a mistake or misconstruing things. A word to the wise may be sufficient, but most of us need a little more prodding than that – and some of us persist in error to the bitter end, ignoring repeated correction and seeming to prefer failure to reformation and honest self-appraisal.
Our state Supreme Court had long been heading in the wrong direction on the matter of arbitration, until two years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its decision in Brown v. Genesis Healthcare Corp.
Plaintiffs filing suit against three West Virginia nursing homes argued that the arbitration agreements they had signed are prohibited by the West Virginia Nursing Home Act. The nursing homes countered that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state law.
Our state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, effectively abrogating the terms of the contracts they had voluntarily signed.
Dismissing that interpretation as “both incorrect and inconsistent,” the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision.
To its credit, our state Supreme Court seems to have taken to heart that stinging rebuke and appears to have reversed course and to be moving now in the right direction.
In three cases decided over the past year, the Court upheld arbitration agreements that plaintiffs sought to abrogate.
By validating arbitration, the Court's new approach will reduce the burden on our legal system and reassure businesses that agreements made in good faith will be upheld.
This is good news for West Virginia, and genuine progress.