Specialty Requirement Strictly Enforced By NJ High Court

By April 26, 2013Injury Law

On April 24, 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Edward Nicholas v. Dr. Christopher Mynster, held that a plaintiff?s medical malpractice expert should have been barred from offering testimony regarding the standard of care required of a board certified emergency room physician and a physician certified in family medicine because the expert did not have the appropriate credentials in those areas of medicine. The plaintiff, Edward Nicholas, became ill while operating a gas-powered saw in an enclosed basement and was seen by a board certified emergency physician and a physician certified in family medicine at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center.? He was treated with oxygen for carbon monoxide poisoning, but suffered brain damage.? Nicholas and his wife sued alleging that the doctors should have referred Nicholas to a facility with a hyperbaric chamber for appropriate treatment.? Pursuant to the Affidavit of Merit Statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41, a plaintiff is required to file with the court an Affidavit of Merit from a physician in the same specialty or sub-specialty as a condition of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In this case, the plaintiff retained an expert, Dr. Lindell K. Weaver who was board certified in preventative medicine with a sub-specialty in undersea and hyperbaric medicine, and who had clinical experience in evaluating and treating patients with acute carbon monoxide poisoning.? The New Jersey Supreme Court found that under the plain textual reading of the Affidavit of Merit Statute, the plaintiff did not present an Affidavit of Merit or expert testimony from the appropriately credentialed expert.? ?The NJ Supreme Court found that Dr. Weaver was qualified as an expert under New Jersey Evidence Rules in carbon monoxide poisoning and hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Nevertheless, he was not qualified under the Affidavit of Merit statute to render an opinion with respect to the standard of care required of a board certified emergency room physician and a physician certified in family medicine.

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