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Nursing Home Cannot Hold Resident’s Agent Personally Liable for Unpaid Bill

A New Jersey trial court grants summary judgment to a nursing home resident’s agent under a power of attorney in a lawsuit by the nursing home for payment of the resident’s unpaid bill and orders that the nursing home pay attorney’s fees and costs. Hampton Ridge Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center v. Wright (N.J. Super. Ct., No. L-2335-16, Nov. 1, 2017).

Charles Douglas was an agent under a power of attorney for his aunt, Idella Wright. Ms. Wright entered a nursing home, and Mr. Douglas signed the admission agreement as the responsible party. Mr. Douglas assigned Ms. Wright’s Social Security payments to the nursing home, but Ms. Wright died owing $18,322 to the nursing home.

The nursing home sued Mr. Douglas for failing to timely apply for Medicaid benefits and to pay the final bill. Mr. Douglas filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that he was not personally liable because New Jersey law prohibits a nursing home from requiring a third-party guarantee as a condition of admission. The trial court granted Mr. Douglas summary judgment and he filed a motion for attorney’s fees.

The New Jersey Superior court orders that the nursing home pay attorney’s fees and costs. The court holds that the claim Mr. Douglas was forced to defend against was brought “in contravention” of the “clear and unambiguous statutory language” insulating third parties from personal financial liability.

For the full text of this decision, go to: https://vanarellilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Hampton-Ridge-Healthcare-Rehabilitation-Center-v.-Douglas.pdf



David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.

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