South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Administrator of Nursing Homes Not Liable for Negligent Medical Care
Description

Mississippi high court held that the administrator of a nursing home cannot be sued for negligent medical practice or for breach of fiduciary duty unless the administrator specifically undertook such duties, as those positions are generally not related to such matters.

Topic

Agency

Key Words

Liability; Negligence; Breach of Fiduciary Duty

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Thead and Harper were placed in a Benchmark Care nursing home when they were suffering from age-related dementia and other health problems. After their deaths, their estates sued the administrator of the nursing home for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with alleged poor medical treatment at the home. Proceedings were stayed while several questions of law were considered by the Mississippi high court.

Decision

While a nursing home owner can be held liable in tort for negligence in the care of residents, an administrator does not owe the same duty of care to residents that the owner does. Administrators are not a medical providers, but rather deals with administrative concerns and regulatory compliance, so they cannot be held liable for medical malpractice. They owe a duty to their employer, not nursing home patients, so they cannot be held liable for breach of a fiduciary duty to patients.

Citation

Howard v. Estate of Harper, ---So.2d--- (2006 WL 3026398, Sup. Ct., Miss., 2006)

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