A New Jersey trial court granted 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).
Mr. Douglas was an agent under a power of attorney for his aunt. When his aunt entered the nursing home, Douglas signed the admission agreement as the responsible party. When she died, the nursing home was still owed $18,322.
The nursing home sued Douglas for failing to timely apply for Medicaid benefits and to pay the final bill. 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 Douglas summary judgment and he filed a motion for attorney’s fees.
The New Jersey Superior court ordered that the nursing home pay attorney’s fees and costs and court held that the claim Douglas was forced to defend against was brought “in contravention” of the “clear and unambiguous statutory language” insulating third parties from personal financial liability.
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