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Higgins v. American Society of Clinical Pathologists

Decided: March 13, 1967.


Gaulkin, Lewis and Labrecque. The opinion of the court was delivered by Labrecque, J.A.D.


Plaintiff appeals from a summary judgment in favor of defendant. Defendant cross-appeals from the trial court's denial of its motion to quash service and dismiss the complaint on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction, insufficiency of service, and forum non conveniens.

Plaintiff, a medical technologist, sought by this in lieu proceeding to compel defendant American Society of Clinical

Pathologists (society) to renew her certification as such and to reinstate her name on its registry of medical technologists.

Medical technologists perform laboratory tests to aid physicians in detecting, diagnosing and treating diseases. Defendant society is a nonprofit corporation of the State of Colorado having its main office in Chicago, Illinois. Its purposes, as set forth in its constitution are:

"(a) to promote the practice of scientific medicine by a wider application of pathology to the diagnosis and treatment of disease, (b) to stimulate research in all branches of pathology, (c) to establish standards for performance of various laboratory procedures, (d) to elevate the scientific and professional status of those specializing in this branch of medicine, and (e) to encourage closer cooperation of pathologists with other physicians and with medical technologists."

The society's Board of Registry, which has its headquarters in Muncie, Indiana, maintains a "Registry of Medical Technologists" composed of non-doctors whose qualifications have been found to meet the standards of the society. For the purpose of carrying out its functions, the Board of Registry conducts qualifying examinations of applicants and issues certificates to those who qualify. Certification is for one year only, and during that period they are entitled to use after their names the title MT (ASCP).

In 1963 plaintiff graduated from Rider College with a B.S. degree in medical technology, after completing the required period of hospital training at Mercer Hospital, Trenton. She thereafter passed the examination conducted by the society, was certified and had her name entered in the society's registry of medical technologists. When her certification was renewed in 1964 she was employed by Mercer Hospital, but later she terminated her employment there and accepted employment with Egan Laboratories, an independent bio-analytical laboratory located in Trenton. N.J.S.A. 45:9-42.18 provides that:

"Each bio-analytical laboratory shall be under the direct and constant supervision of either

(a) a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the State of New Jersey, or

(b) a licensed bio-analytical laboratory director."

The standards of conduct (code of ethics) for medical technologists adopted by defendant's Board of Registry provided:

"I. A medical technologist will work at all times under the direction or supervision of a pathologist or other duly qualified and licensed doctor of medicine, such qualifications being determined on the basis of accepted medical ethics. * * *

II. A medical technologist will not act as owner, co-owner, advisor or employee, or by means of any subterfuge, participate in an arrangement whereby an individual not regularly licensed to practice medicine is enabled to own or operate a laboratory of clinical pathology." (Emphasis added)

In her new employment plaintiff was not working under the direction or supervision of a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery, but her supervisor was a non-doctor holding a bio-analytical laboratory director's license issued by the State Board of Medical Examiners. N.J.S.A. 45:9-42.18. For this reason the society denied plaintiff's application for renewal of her certification for 1965. She thereupon brought the present action contending, inter alia, that the quoted standards are contrary to the public policy expressed in N.J.S.A. 45:9-42.1 et seq.

We turn first to the question of jurisdiction raised by the cross-appeal. Traditionally, the acquisition of jurisdiction over a foreign corporation has involved (1) the power to subject it to the jurisdiction of the court, and (2) bringing it before the court by proper notice. Here defendant contends that its activities were not such as to subject it to the court's jurisdiction and, assuming that they were, service of process was defective.

It is now well settled that to subject a foreign corporation to an in personam judgment where the corporation is not present within this State, due process requires only that it have such "minimum ...

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