On appeal from New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners.
Fritz, Bischoff and Morgan. The opinion of the court was delivered by Morgan, J.A.D.
This is an appeal from the final decision of the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners (hereinafter the "Board") approving Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic for accreditation, thereby allowing its graduates to sit for the New Jersey chiropractic examination and, if qualified, to be licensed as chiropractors in this State. The appeal is by the New Jersey Chiropractic Society, a nonprofit corporation of the State of New Jersey, whose membership is taken from the rolls of practicing New Jersey chiropractors, Ronald E. Crescenzo, D.C., a doctor of chiropractic licensed to practice in this State (as well as a member of the Board of Medical Examiners who passed on the matter in issue) and Frank DeSimone, a citizen and taxpayer of the State of New Jersey and a chiropractic patient.
Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic is a chiropractic college located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which had been chartered by that state on January 11, 1973. Its first class graduated in October 1976. In 1976 Sherman College applied to the Board for approval under N.J.S.A. 45:9-41.5. The Board's ultimate approval generated the present appeal.
Pursuant to statute, as will be seen, the College first submitted substantial written material supporting its application to a committee of the Board composed of one physician and two chiropractors. Without an inspection of the institution that committee recommended rejection of the application on the ground that the College's failure to receive accreditation by the national Council of Chiropractic Education (hereinafter "CCE") rendered the application at least premature, if not entirely unacceptable.
Against contentions by the College that the committee's chiropractic members were biased against the school's philosophical orientation to the practice of chiropractic, about which more later, another committee was created to inspect the institution's facilities. Following reports received from
the new committee, again recommending against approval of the school, the Board ultimately voted its approval.
The proceedings before the Board were informal in nature, resembling a discussion more than an adversary proceeding. Indeed, during most of the proceedings there was no adversary. No one appeared in opposition at the meetings of January 12, April 13 and May 11, 1977. It was only at the Board's meeting on October 12, 1977 that an attorney for the appellant organization appeared as a "visitor" and made a statement generally in support of the position of the two chiropractic members of the committee who had recommended rejection of the College's application.
It was after this statement that the Board, in a 6-4 vote, approved the application of Sherman College. No findings of fact were requested and none made. The only statement concerning reasons for the approval was made by Dr. Albano, president of the Board, who, in substance, found that Sherman College taught diagnosis in the chiropractic context, that is, diagnosis limited to services a chiropractor may by law provide, and that since the College met the other statutory requirements, he would recommend approval of the application.
Appellants contend that, as a matter of law, the Board was foreclosed from approving the application by reason of the negative recommendation of its statutory committee. Appellants further impugn the action of the Board by the lack of findings of fact and conclusions of law, by its alleged arbitrariness and lack of evidential support in the record for its decision and by the alleged fact that Sherman College graduates will not meet minimum educational requirements for licensure as chiropractors in this State.
Before considering these several grounds for appeal we must refer, briefly at least, to the philosophical conflict in the conception of what a chiropractor does or is permitted by law to do, that underlies so much of the controversy surrounding this matter. Two schools of chiropractic ...