I’m being sued for $8k for my brother’s medical bill – it’s ‘crazy’ I’m on hook when I had no control over his money

NURSING homes are suing friends and relatives of those in the homes for thousands of dollars.

Dozens of nursing homes are suing friends and family of patients who have outstanding balances on their stay. 

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Nursing homes are suing friends and family of patients for unpaid billsCredit: Getty
The lawsuits are costing relatives thousands of dollars and have little evidence

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The lawsuits are costing relatives thousands of dollars and have little evidenceCredit: Getty

One woman, Lucille Brooks, was held responsible for her brother’s county-run nursing home fees in Rochester, New York.

Brooks’ brother was put into the nursing home in 2019 after being released from a nearby hospital due to complications from diabetes medicine, NPR reported.

After spending two months in the nursing home, Brooks’ brother was released from the home.

One year later she was served with an $8,000 from the county-run nursing home claiming it was her responsibility to use her brother’s assets to pay the debt, and since she didn’t, she was responsible for the bill.

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Brooks was shocked.

Little did she know that written in tiny fine print on the contract she signed when her brother was first admitted was a clause stating friends and family may be responsible for the resident’s unpaid bills.

Brooks isn’t the only Rochester resident to be hit with such a shocking lawsuit.

Monroe County, where Rochester is located, saw 24 federally licensed nursing homes file 238 debt collection cases from 2018 to 2021.

The cases sought almost $7.6 million total.

Almost two-thirds of the cases targeted friends and family, accusing them of hiding resident’s assets.

“I get calls all the time from people who are served with these lawsuits who had no idea that this was even a remote possibility, who call me crying and frantic,” Anna Anderson, an attorney at the nonprofit Legal Assistance of Western New York, told NPR.

 “They believe not only that they’re going to lose their own income and their own houses and assets, but also they’re concerned that their loved ones who are still in the nursing home may be potentially kicked out.”

Many Monroe County residents live on a fixed income, making a lawsuit worth several thousands of dollars an impossible burden.

“We don’t have money to throw around, especially when you don’t see it coming,” Brooks said.

Rochester nursing homes will often hit friends and family with accusations of “fraudulent conveyance,” claiming those around the relatives are hiding their assets and property to avoid paying debt.

“People see that in a lawsuit and they think they’re being accused of stealing,” Anderson said. 

“It’s chilling.”

Although families taking advantage of elder relatives isn’t unheard of, many lawsuits brought up by the nursing homes contain almost no evidence to support the claims. 

The county was only able to supply evidence in three of 29 lawsuits filed against friends and family.

One case brought up by a nursing home suing one woman’s friend who had checked her into the home for $21,000, was thrown out by a judge after there was insufficient evidence.

The judge noted that the county’s case “does not meet the bare minimum requirements.” 

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