A New Jersey Court of Appeals recently held that a resident’s daughter, who signed the admission agreement as the resident’s “responsible party” and who had access to the resident’s income and resources, liable for not using such income and resources to pay the long term care facility for the resident’s stay and care at the facility. The nursing home brought the lawsuit against the daughter, individually, and asserted that the daughter failed to act to use the resident’s financial resources to pay for care provided by the nursing home. Manahawkin Convalescent v. O’Neill (— A.3d —-, 2012 WL 1948653, N.J.Super.A.D., May 31, 2012 (NO. A-0841-11T4)) (njcourts.judiciary.state.nj.us)
In February 2007, Elise Hopkins, became a resident at Manahawkin Convalescent Center, a nursing home. Mrs. Hopkins’ daughter, Frances O’Neill, signed the admission agreement as her mother’s “Responsible Party.” O’Neill agreed to allow Medicaid benefits to be paid directly to the nursing home, but chose to receive her mother’s social security benefits. In so doing, O’Neill assumed the responsibility of making monthly payments from her mother’s resources to the nursing home for the amount due to the facility.
Mrs. Hopkins’ died in June 2008. There was an outstanding balance due of over $878 for the final month of care. The nursing home filed a lawsuit against O’Neill to have her pay the outstanding balance due. The trial court ruled in favor of the nursing home and held that the daughter failed to act and
The appeals court upheld the judgment against the daughter. The court found that New Jersey law allows a facility to require an individual, who has access to a resident’s income or resources to pay for facility for the care provided and to sign a contract where that responsible party agrees act so that the resident’s income or resources are used to pay the nursing home.
The daughter claimed that she did not agree to be the private pay guarantor for her mother’s nursing home or other care expenses, and that, by making her sign the admission agreement the nursing home violated the New Jersey Nursing Home Act and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The New Jersey Court of Appeals held that the nursing home was not attempting to hold daughter personally liable for her mother’s debt.
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