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Nursing home can’t collect from estate under doctrine of necessaries

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A Connersville nursing home can’t seek to collect on expenses for a patient after her death from the estate of her husband under the doctrine of necessaries, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, because the facility didn’t first seek to collect from the patient.

Marianne Combs, a Medicaid patient, lived at Hickory Creek, where she was admitted by her daughter. Combs also accrued a private account balance of nearly $6,000. When she died, no estate was opened for Combs and the nursing home did not open a creditor’s estate in order to preserve its claim.

Instead, Hickory Creek filed a claim for the balance against Comb’s husband, and later his estate when he died, based on the doctrine of necessaries. The trial court denied the claim.

Under the doctrine, each spouse is primarily liable for his or her debts, but when unable to satisfy his or her own necessary expenses, the law will impose limited secondary liability upon the financially superior spouse. The doctrine arose from a time when married women were nearly completely dependent on their husbands, although as the years have gone on, the courts have found the doctrine applies in a gender-neutral manner.

Allowing a creditor to first pursue a non-contracting spouse erodes the concept of secondary liability, the appeals court noted. It rejected Hickory Creek’s claim that it determined that Combs had no assets, so it was justified in not opening an estate just “for the sake of preserving its claim.”

“Hickory Creek was first required to file a claim against Marianne to determine whether she was unable to satisfy her obligations. And because Marianne had passed away and no estate was opened for her, this meant that Hickory Creek, as a creditor, should have opened an estate for her, which it was permitted to do as an interested person. However, Hickory Creek did not do so. And now, it cannot do so because the time has passed,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in Hickory Creek at Connersville v. Estate of Otto K. Combs, 21A04-1211-ES-600.

 

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  4. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  5. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

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