The WSJ says the move is part of a broader trend of companies trying to prevent lawsuits by bypassing “emotion-laden juries.” But it reports that the largest arbitration firms typically won’t take nursing-home cases on since patients “really are not in an appropriate state of mind to evaluate” it. The Journal notes that arbitration awards against companies are typically less than jury awards, and quotes an arbitrator estimating that they’re less by about two-thirds.

The (down) beat goes on

In economic news, a WSJ survey of economists finds that three-quarters say the economy is in recession and hasn’t yet hit the trough. They expect unemployment to rise to 5.6 percent by the end of the year. Sixty-seven percent say home prices won’t turn around until sometime in 2009.

Initial jobless claims declined much more than expected last week, to 357,000 from 407,000, but the total number of unemployed rose to a near four-year high, Bloomberg reports.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.