It may sound like sensationalism but I am a firm believer that confidential settlements perform a giant disservice to the public. And after many years of representing my clients and seeing their effect, this belief has been further cemented. What are confidential agreements then and why do I consider them such a danger to the public?

In cases of nursing home abuse or neglect, the plaintiffs are bringing forth claims to seek reparations for wrongs committed against themselves or a loved one and to improve the quality of life for residents in nursing homes. Confidentiality agreements, usually part of typical settlement agreements offered by the nursing home to settle claims, defeat this second purpose. They stop plaintiffs from speaking on the specifics of their case to the general public and even their immediate family in many cases.

I believe they are a bad idea because the use of confidentiality agreements allows nursing homes to hide their wrong doing from the general public. The public is prevented from knowing the bad practices that created the lawsuit in the first place. They provide no benefit to plaintiffs and are used as a tool during settlement negotiations.

If you are involved in a settlement negotiation, it’s extremely important to discuss with your attorney the implications of confidentiality agreements because each state has variations in their laws that may affect them (be aware that some portions of a settlement may even be taxable).

In the end, confidentiality agreements are a largely unavoidable part of many settlement negotiations, and ultimately, it’s my duty to follow my clients’ wishes, even if it means accepting a settlement that includes a confidentiality clause. But, they defeat the purpose of Tort law: public safety and deterrence!

Stay informed and safe.