Close this search box.

Patient’s Daughter Has No Claim Against Nursing Home

Print Article

JULY 21, 2003 VOLUME 11, NUMBER 3

Helen Hosta of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, was admitted to Century Oak Care Center in February 2001. Mrs. Hosta was unable to sign the Century Oak admission agreement, so her daughter, Roberta, signed for her.

After Mrs. Hosta’s Medicare coverage ran out in March, 2001, her daughter Roberta and another daughter, Lynn Straka, applied for Medicaid to cover the nursing facility bills. Because she had financial resources in excess of Ohio’s Medicaid eligibility limits Mrs. Hosta failed to qualify for Medicaid coverage for another eight months.

Century Oak filed suit in August 2001 against Lynn Straka for non-payment of Mrs. Hosta’s bill. Ms. Straka answered the complaint claiming that she had no liability since she did not sign the contract with Century Oak, and Medicare and Medicaid regulations prohibit holding third parties liable for a patient’s bills. Ms. Straka also counterclaimed that Century Oak’s contract constituted negligent and false misrepresentation, and that the admission agreement contained the false and misleading statement that “’it is a federal crime to unlawfully divest assets to become Medicaid eligible.’”

Century Oak dismissed its claim against Ms. Straka after learning that she had not signed the care agreement. Century Oak pursued Mrs. Hosta for payment, but it also dismissed that lawsuit when payment was received. Ms. Straka, however, pursued her counterclaim against Century Oak for its alleged violation of federal and state law. The Ohio trial court dismissed Ms. Straka’s claim, and last month the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals upheld the trial court ruling. SWA, Inc., dba Century Oak Care Center v. Lynn Straka, June 19, 2003.

The Ohio courts found that Ms. Straka had no standing to pursue damages since she was not a party to the Century Oak contract. Interestingly, the Ohio court went further by saying that even if Ms. Straka could have sued her claim would have been over-reaching. Though Ms. Straka argued that Century Oak could not sue a third-party for a patient’s non-payment, the Ohio court pointed out that the federal law relevant to nursing facility admissions only prevents the facility from requiring someone else to guarantee payment as a condition of admission.

Although nursing homes can not require a third party to guarantee payment, someone with access to the patient’s funds (like a conservator or agent under a power of attorney) may be sued for non-payment. Anyone signing a nursing home admission contract should of course read it carefully and seek appropriate legal advice.

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our Newsletter to get our takes on some of the situations families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities find themselves in. These posts help guide you in the decision making process and point out helpful tips and nuances to take advantage of. Enter your email below to have our entries sent directly to your inbox!

Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.