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Original WP 5.1 Version
(NOTE: This decision was approved by the court for publication.)
This case can also be found at 305 N.J. Super. 244.
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
WILLIAM B. FRIELDS, Administrator
ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL AND
Argued: October 22, 1997 - Decided: November
Before Judges Muir, Jr., Cuff and Steinberg.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New
Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County.
Donald J. Maizys argued the cause for
appellant (Karas, Kilstein, Hirschklau,
Feitlin & Youngman, attorneys; Mr. Maizys on
John L. Shanahan argued the cause for
respondent St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical
Center (Hein, Smith, Berezin, Maloof, Davidson
& Jacobs, attorneys; Mr. Shanahan, of counsel
and on the brief; Douglas V. Sanchez on the
Bruce A. Tritsch argued the cause for
respondent City of Paterson (Feinberg and
Tritsch, attorneys; Mr. Tritsch, of counsel
and on the brief).
The opinion of the court was delivered by
Plaintiff William B. Frields, Administrator of the Estate of
William T. Frields, appeals from orders granting summary judgment
in favor of defendants St. Joseph's Hospital (Hospital) and the
City of Paterson (City). The motion judge ruled that the mobile
intensive care unit personnel from the Hospital and the emergency
medical technicians from the City who responded to plaintiff's call
for assistance were immune from liability pursuant to statute. We
restrained, the emergency personnel were able to transport him to
the ambulance. Billy arrived at the Hospital between 7:50 and 7:55
p.m. He died at 9:02 p.m. An autopsy revealed that he died from
a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
N.J.S.A. 26:2K-14 provides a similar good faith immunity to
mobile intensive care paramedics; N.J.S.A. 26:2K-29 provides a good
faith immunity to EMT-intermediates. N.J.S.A. 26:2K-14 provides:
N.J.S.A. 26:2K-29 provides:
No EMT--intermediate, licensed physician,
hospital or its board of trustees, officers
and members of the medical staff, nurses or
other employees of the hospital, or officers
and members of a first aid, ambulance or
rescue squad shall be liable for any civil
damages as the result of an act or the
omission of an act committed while in training
for or in the rendering of intermediate life
support services in good faith and in
accordance with this act.
It is undisputed that the Hospital personnel were members of a
mobile intensive care unit and that the City personnel qualify as
EMT-intermediates. Therefore, the inquiry is whether they acted in
141 N.J. 101, 132 (1995). Summary judgment, however, is
appropriate when the employee demonstrates that his/her actions
"were objectively reasonable or that [he] performed them with
subjective good faith." Canico v. Hurtado,
144 N.J. 361, 365
(1996). This test recognizes that even a person who acted
negligently is entitled to a qualified immunity, if he acted in an
objectively reasonable manner. Id. at 366.
Plaintiff's expert does no more than state a case for
paramedic or emergency personnel negligence. Coupled with his
concession that the emergency personnel could not be expected to
diagnose a subarachnoid hemorrhage in the field, plaintiff has
failed to present any facts which create a genuine issue of
material fact that defendants' employees did not act in an
objectively reasonable manner. Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.,
142 N.J. 520, 544 (1995). Accordingly, the City personnel were
immune pursuant to the immunity conferred by N.J.S.A. 26:2K-29, and
the Hospital employees were immune pursuant to the terms of
N.J.S.A. 26:2K-14See footnote 1 and summary judgment in favor of defendants was
Footnote: 1The City's reliance on the immunity conferred by N.J.S.A. 59:3-3 is misplaced. This statute confers an immunity on public employees for acts or omissions in the course of the enforcement of a statute, ordinance or regulation. See Bombace v. City of Newark, 125 N.J. 361 (1991) (municipal employees responsible for the enforcement of municipal building and fire codes immune from liability); Reaves v. State of New Jersey, 303 N.J. Super. 115 (App. Div. 1997) (personnel of the Division on Civil Rights immune from liability for failing to promptly investigate discrimination claim). The City has cited no law which City personnel were administering or enforcing at the time of their response.
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