Admission Agreement Explicitly Relieves Resident’s Sponsor of Personal Liability

An Ohio appeals court holds that a resident’s stepdaughter who signed his admission agreement as his “sponsor” and who had access to his accounts is not liable to the nursing home for unpaid costs because the admission agreement explicitly relieved her of personal liability. Montgomery at Carecore, LLC v. Abbott (Ohio Ct. App., 1st Dist., No. C-210252, Dec. 8, 2021).

Lloyd Harrison entered a nursing home. The admission agreement identified his stepdaughter, Rita Abbott, as his “sponsor.” The agreement stated that the sponsor could acknowledge the agreement without incurring personal financial liability. It also provided that if the sponsor had access to the resident’s income, the sponsor should pay the facility from the resident’s resources.

The nursing home sued Ms. Abbott for $16,800, claiming that Ms. Abbott showed them documentation that she had access to Mr. Harrison’s accounts, but that she did not pay them from the accounts. Ms. Abbott filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that she was not personally liable under the terms of the admission agreement. The trial court granted her judgment, and the nursing home appealed.

The Ohio Court of Appeals, First District, affirms, holding that the admission agreement “explicitly relieves [Ms.] Abbott of any liability.” The court notes that the “agreement did not state that [Ms.] Abbott could become liable for her failure to perform. Instead, it explicitly stated that [Ms.] Abbott could acknowledge the agreement ‘without incurring personal financial liability.’” According to the court, the nursing home drafted the agreement and “purposely included a broad nonliability clause,” so “it is bound by its terms.”

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