Resident's Representative Not Entitled to Summary Judgment for Nonpayment Claim Even Though She Didn't Sign Admission Agreement

Reversing a lower court, an Ohio appeals court rules that the fact that a nursing home resident's representative did not sign the nursing home admission agreement is not reason enough to grant her summary judgment because the nursing home's claims against her for nonpayment were not based on theories of liability under the agreement. Montefiore Home v. Fields (Ohio Ct. App., 8thDist., No. 107359, May 23, 2019).

Hazel Thornton entered a nursing home and signed an admission agreement. The agreement named Faye Fields as Ms. Thornton's "representative," but Ms. Fields did not sign the agreement. While Ms. Thornton was in the nursing home, Ms. Fields told the nursing home that she was Ms. Thornton's agent under a power of attorney and that she would make payments to the nursing home. Ms. Thornton died owing the nursing home $20,388.34. Ms. Fields withdrew money from Ms. Thornton's account, but did not pay the nursing home.

The nursing home sued Ms. Fields for promissory estoppel, fraudulent transfer, and unauthorized acts of a power of attorney. Ms. Fields argued that she was not liable because she did not sign the contract. The trial court granted her summary judgment, and the nursing home appealed.

The Ohio Court of Appeals, Eighth District, reverses, holding that Ms. Fields was not entitled to summary judgment. According to the court, the evidence showed that Ms. Fields made promises to the nursing home about paying Ms. Thornton's debt, the nursing home relied on those promises, and Ms. Fields depleted Ms. Thornton's bank account. The court rules that the fact that Ms. Fields did not sign the admission agreement is irrelevant because none of the nursing home's "claims are based on a theory of liability under the admission agreement."

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