Legal Question in Elder Law in Missouri

How can I visit my grandmother when the place she is living at, the owner says I'm not welcome there anymore

Asked on 4/02/13, 7:33 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony Smith LawSmith

You were not able or chose not to provide many facts. I will assume that your grandmother is in a nursing home or some other type of similar residence. There may be no way to get a Court to Order an administrator to allow you to enter the premises, if you do not already have a fiduciary or custodial authority and obligation as to your grandmother. Basically, that means if you are not her Guardian or Conservator, or serving under an Power of Attorney appointment, a Court will probably not find grounds to intervene in the civil matter of you being barred from entering the building.

You did not say WHY they won't let you in. If it was for a purpose prohibited by the various Missouri Statutes and Federal Regulations that address public accommodations, there can be some grounds for a suit for damages, but not likely for an Order to let you in. That is, if they won't let you in because you are black, catholic, not a native born American, disabled, etc., you could get money, but maybe not an Order to let you see visit your Grandmother. But, you might get an injunction that says you cannot be prohibited form entering the premises. You did not provide any facts to determine if this criteria relates to your situation at all. If you think it does, I suggest that you keeps good notes, and contact a civil rights attorney soon.

If there is a demonstrated pr documented reason for the manager or administrator of an assisted living establishment to keep you out, there may be little you can do through the courts. If you were arrested there, or caused a disturbance. few courts will overturn the administrator's decision about the safety and security of their establishment. This may be true even if the manager or administrator just doesn't like you, as long as it is not for one of the prohibited discriminatory grounds mentioned above.

Your grandmother may have grounds for getting a Court to enter an injunction or award for damages for the refusal to allow her to have the quests and visitors she chooses. An assisted living resident has much stronger rights to visitors they choose, in response to restrictions imposed by their lessor or landlord, than does the visitor. Basically, that means you may not have grounds to bring a suit because you were denied entrance, but your Grandmother may because they are restricting her use of her leased space. She may not have to prove that you were barred for discriminatory reasons. But, if you were a demonstrated safety, security or peace risk to employees or other residents, the establishment may be able to use that evidence as a defense to her suit. If you feel that the owner or the staff is just trying to control your Grandmother's life or her finances, consult with a Probate or Elder Law attorney at your earliest opportunity.

If your Grandmother is not in a nursing home or some similar dormitory establishment, both your claims are stronger. If she is in an apartment, with her own door to the outside, it is tougher for a landlord to justify interfering with the visitors she chooses. The owner of an apartment complex may not have the authority to prohibit you from entering the premises, absent a showing of previous damage or disturbances committed by you. You may not be barred without reason from public spaces. If that is the case, they are telling you or your Grandmother, that she can't have you visit, I again suggest that you consult directly with a civil attorney in your area.

Now, let's assume there is no case you can bring. Let's also assume that your Grandmother wants you to visit, but will not be doing anything through the Courts to overcome the Owner's refusal to allow you in. That leaves you with some sort of negotiation. If you know why you are barred, you or your attorney can address it head on. If there were no bad incidences affecting safety or security, it comes down to personality clashes. These are common in nursing home or assisted living establishments. It would be rare for personality differences to be relevant in an apartment complex, where the visitor has little interaction with the property owner.

Attorneys don't just sue people, they are basically problem solvers and peacemakers. If you determine that they won't let you in because they don't like you, it may be up to your attorney to change that opinion. If your Grandmother wants you to visit, and you and she don't know WHY they won't let you on the premises, you may have to use an attorney or other trusted friend to find out why and rectify the situation.

Your attorney or other trusted friend can write or otherwise contact the owner to determine the reason you are not allowed to visit. It may be a misunderstanding. If there was an argument or other clash, that attorney may be able to explain (or apologize) on your behalf. An attorney, in contrast to a lay friend may be able to point out the possible litigation that could occur if the owner doesn't at least participate in trying to improve the situation.

I've mentioned "if your Grandmother wants you to visit" several times. If there has not been a disruptive event involving you, I assume she does. But, you should not assume that she wants you to press the issue, if doing so will jeopardize her living situation. It is rare for a property owner to bar a visitor where there has been no bad history with that visitor. A property owner that would do that, might also take it out on the resident, if they are opposed in saying who can and cannot come on the premises. Please keep your Grandmother's interests in mind. Perhaps you and her could visit somewhere else, if she would rather you not rock the boat. If you or she think her living situation would be changed by you contacting the owner directly, I again suggest that you consult with legal counsel before trying to fix the situation.

Good luck

PS. You or your Grandmother may email or call me if you want help. If you do, please reference that is about the "prevented from visiting my Grandmother" posting. I answer a lot of questions, and the person posting a questions is kept anonomous by this system. Too many people seeking follow up help, start right in assuming I know who they are, or why they are communicating with my office.

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Answered on 4/05/13, 7:38 pm

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