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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

MANAHAWKIN CONVALESCENT VS. FRANCES O'NEILL AND FRANCES O'NEILL, ETC., VS. BROADWAY HEALTH CARE MANAGEMENT, LLC, ET AL. A-0841-11T4


MANAHAWKIN CONVALESCENT VS. FRANCES O'NEILL AND
FRANCES O'NEILL, ETC., VS. BROADWAY HEALTH CARE
MANAGEMENT, LLC, ET AL.
 A-0841-11T4

The complaint captioned Manahawkin Convalescent v. Frances O'Neill was dismissed.  This appeal pertains to the third-party action filed by Frances O'Neill, in her capacity as Executrix of the Estate of Elise Hopkins v. Broadway Health Care Management, LLC, et al.

The issue presented in this appeal is whether the Rehabilitation and Nursing Home Admission Agreement required to be signed prior to plaintiff's mother Elise Hopkins' admission to Manahawkin Convalescent Center violated the Nursing Home Act,
N.J.S.A. 30:13-1 to -17, the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 to -18, and the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 to -20.  The narrower issue is whether the nursing home's lawsuit filed against the
plaintiff as the responsible party, to collect the outstanding debt owed for services rendered for her mother's care, violates the Consumer Fraud Act.

We recognized the long-standing "learned professional" exception to the Consumer Fraud Act that proscribes consumer protection actions against certain types of professionals or
industries that are regulated by separate state or federal agencies, where such regulation could conflict with regulation under the CFA. The Supreme Court held in certain instances separate agencies with concurrent regulatory jurisdiction and control may create conflicting determinations, rulings and regulations affecting the identical subject matter.  

Hospital billing activities have been found to be within the learned professional exception due to state and federal regulations associated with the receipt of Medicaid and Medicare
funding.  Applying that rule of law here, we determine that defendant's nursing home is similarly regulated and as such, their billing services fall within the "learned professional"  exception of the CFA. 5-31-12