It is unknown how many of our vulnerable elderly fall victim to neglect or abuse each year since such actions are easily hidden from view and underreported. In fact, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 84 percent of abusive situations involving older adults go unreported or unrecognized.
Financial exploitation is an all-too-common form of nursing home abuse in the Cleveland area. Due to their circumstances, nursing home residents are vulnerable adults. And it is far too easy for nursing homes to take advantage of this by demanding residents–and even their family members–sign papers that unknowingly commit them to paying thousands of dollars in costs that are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance.
Judge Holds Nursing Home to Promise Not to Charge 73-Year-Old Woman for Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Nursing homes will also go to extraordinary lengths to collect the money they think they are owed. A recent decision by the Ohio 11th Appellate District Court of Appeals, Winchester Post-Acute Rebab. Ctr. v. Turner, offers a particularly egregious example. This case involved a nursing home’s effort to collect a purported $7,700 debt against a former resident and her adult granddaughter.
Here is what happened. The plaintiff is a nursing home operator in Franklin County. In 2014, a 73-year-old woman named Turner was admitted to the plaintiff’s nursing home on two occasions to recover from back surgery. Turner checked herself into the home. She also made it clear that she “could not afford out-of-pocket payments,” due to the fact her husband was already in another nursing home due to his dementia.
Turner said the plaintiff’s staff told her that insurance would cover all of her costs. But that turned out not to be true. According to the plaintiff, Turner exhausted her nursing home benefits under Medicare and her private insurance policy, leaving a balance of $7,764.
This eventually led the plaintiff to sue not only Turner, but her granddaughter, a 21-year-old woman named Cox. The plaintiff maintained Cox signed a “personal guarantee” to pay the costs of her grandmother’s care. But Cox testified the plaintiff’s employees called her “numerous times to get her to sign paperwork,” even though she did not hold her grandmother’s power of attorney and was in no way authorized to act on her behalf. Nevertheless, Cox said the nursing home staff “implied” she had to sign certain papers in order for Turner to stay at the nursing home.
Following a non-jury trial, a judge held neither Cox nor Turner were liable for the $7,764 nursing home bill. The judge said there was no legal contract formed between Cox and the defendant. As for Turner, the judge said she relied on the promises made by the plaintiff’s employees she would not face any out-of-pocket expenses for her stay. The plaintiff was therefore barred by the legal principle of “promissory estoppel” from taking any action against Turner.
The plaintiff appealed the judge’s ruling with respect to Cox, but the appeals court agreed with the trial judge that there was no binding contract between the parties.
Contact the Cleveland Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers at Tittle & Perlmuter Today
Cases like this illustrate the importance of working with an experienced Cleveland nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. As you can see, nursing homes will not hesitate to come after you and your family, even on the shakiest of legal grounds. So if you are dealing with an aggressive nursing home that has broken its promises to you, contact the offices of Tittle & Perlmuter at (216) 308-1522 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.