Elder Law


Editors:
Martha C. Brown, Esquire
Alicia Albus, Esquire

Where an individual signs a contract as the "Responsible Party," that individual is a party to the contract, regardless if he was signing on behalf of another. Martha's Hands, LLC v. Rothman, No. 94341 (MO. App. E.D., December 28, 2010), Odenwald, J. 
Steven Rothman signed an agreement with Martha's Hands, LLC for provision of home health care services for his father.  Steven Rothman signed the agreement and signed as "Responsible Party."  Steven Rothman was also named as the "Person Responsible for Bill" on the client payment information portion of the agreement and also signed that form as "Responsible Party."
After his father's death, there was an outstanding balance due Martha's Hands for its services.  Martha's Hands filed suit against Steven Rothman alleging breach of contract.  (Other issues were argued at the trial court, but the breach of contract issue is the only issue that will be summarized here.)
The trial court ruled in favor of Steven Rothman.  Martha's Hands appeals.
The appeals court found there was breach of contract as all four elements of the breach of contract claim were present.  1) A contract did exist - the contract was entered into evidence and did contain Mr. Rothman's signature above the line for "Signature of Responsible Party."  Mr. Rothman acknowledged at trial that he did sign in all of those places on the Agreement, and that he was the one that contracted with Martha's Hands, even though he alleges that he did so on behalf of his father;  2) plaintiff performed - Martha's Hands did perform pursuant to the contract;  3) breach of contract by defendant - it is undisputed that there was an outstanding balance for more than two years after the bill was sent to Steven Rothman; and 4) damages - it is undisputed that interest was to be charged on any outstanding balance.
Held: Judgment Reversed.

The Missouri Bar Courts Bulletin, 11-Feb