On appeal from the Superior Court, Law Division.
For reversal -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Burling, Jacobs and Weintraub. For affirmance -- Justice Oliphant. The opinion of the court was delivered by Weintraub, J.
Plaintiff Mario Lettieri appeals from a judgment of the Law Division dismissing his complaint in lieu of prerogative writ wherein he sought to compel the State Board of Medical Examiners to issue a license for the practice of medicine. By stipulation below, a companion action by the Board to restrain Lettieri from practicing medicine depends upon the outcome of these proceedings. We certified the appeal on our motion prior to consideration of it by the Appellate Division.
Plaintiff's saga begins circa 1945 when he entered the Essex College of Medicine and Surgery. About two years later he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Boston, Mass., apparently because of the demise of the Essex College. He completed his studies successfully, and thereafter a year's internship at the Hudson County General Hospital in this State. He applied to take the June 1950 medical examination, but was found ineligible because the Massachusetts college was not registered by the Board.
In 1953 the Legislature enacted chapter 363, N.J.S.A. 45:9-8.2, to relieve a group of residents who were graduates of unapproved schools, presumably upon a finding
of equities peculiar to them and compatibility with the basic concept of fitness. The statute, so far as Dr. Lettieri is concerned, required proof to the Board that:
"he has received a diploma from a legally incorporated professional school or college in the United States, after completing a four years' course in study, conferring upon him the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and has completed an internship acceptable to the board of at least one year in a hospital approved by the board; and * * * in addition has * * * (c) received a diploma conferring upon him a graduate pharmacist degree of Ph.G. and is the holder of a certificate of registration permitting him to practice pharmacy in the State of New Jersey."
The statute provides that upon proof of the foregoing the applicant "shall * * * be admitted to examination by said board * * * and upon passing such examination, shall be entitled to receive from the board a license to practice medicine and surgery in all its branches in this State." Application had to be made within 90 days of the effective date of the act, August 11, 1953, and the statute provided for its own expiration, i.e., "shall become void and of no effect six months after the effective date thereof."
Dr. Lettieri indisputably satisfied all prerequisites other than "an internship acceptable to the board of at least one year in a hospital approved by the board," and his difficulties revolved about that provision.
When the Board rejected the 1950 application it did not comment upon the sufficiency of the internship. His application under the 1953 act was returned by letter of October 15, 1953, which cryptically advised "that you do not meet the requirements of Chapter 363, P.L. 1953." An inquiry by counsel resulted in a telegram two days later from the Board's secretary to Dr. Lettieri to "kindly report for examination * * * on Tuesday Oct. 20th." He did, and passed, finishing sixth among the 21 who participated.
On October 30, 1953 the secretary wrote plaintiff that he was admitted to the October examination "on condition that, if successful, license ...