For reprimand -- Chief Justice Hughes, Justices Mountain, Sullivan, Pashman, Clifford and Schreiber and Judge Conford. Opposed -- None.
[73 NJ Page 76] This disciplinary proceeding against respondent, a member of the bar of this State, has the following background.
Respondent represented a client who was insured under a Travelers Insurance Company automobile liability policy which also provided "no fault" coverage. The client was injured in an automobile accident and incurred expenses for medical treatment and drugs. These bills were forwarded to Travelers and payment requested. However, Travelers asked for an examination of the client by Dr. Rosenblatt, a doctor selected by it. In the meantime, payment of the bills was withheld.
Efforts to arrange an examination date ran into difficulties and it was not until nine months later that the client was examined by Dr. Rosenblatt. At this point, Mr. Ginsberg, the Supervisor of Travelers' Claim Department, who was handling the claim, wrote to respondent, acknowledged the examination, but then added: "Before I will consider making any payment I want an explanation of why you did not send your client for the exams when originally requested last year." In reply, respondent sent the following letter:
It offends me to have to write this letter since it appears that you cannot read the 'King's English.' However, I will give you the explanation which you requested, before I file my grievance down in Trenton to State Senator's [sic] Menza's office for a formal hearing with the Insurance Commissioner.
An appointment was set up, at your request, in September and the appointment was cancelled because Dr. Rosenblatt had an emergency and was not available for the date that was set.
In October we complied with your letter by setting another appointment with Dr. Rosenblatt for December 14th. However, my client was admitted to the hospital four days prior to that, and was unable to keep that appointment, as evidenced by the records from the Overlook Hospital. As soon as my client came out of the hospital, another appointment was made and this appointment was kept in March of 1976.
It is not my fault that the doctors you choose cannot see a patient for two or three months. I feel that if the company wants quicker action, then it should hire its own private physician on a full-time basis instead of going out looking for orthopedic surgeons who can do the assignments when available.
In addition to that, I am enclosing a bill from Dr. Inglesby, which shows treatment of Mrs. Jones for the month of December when she was admitted to the hospital.
I expect this bill to be paid forthwith, along with the other bills that I have submitted to you, since the explanation that I have given you is an objective one that meets whatever criteria you may require. In the event that these payments are not made within a ten day period, we will not communicate with your office concerning this matter, but shall proceed to file a suit on a breach of contract and file a formal complaint through Senator Menza's office, since I am a Legislative Aide of his, for a formal hearing down in Trenton.
Since I have had problems with your company in the past, it would give me much delight having the Insurance Commissioner find that the company is culpable and responsible for payment ...