The opinion of the court was delivered by: IRENAS
Michael Amoroso, a Pennsylvania citizen, was stabbed on June 16, 1992, during a fight in North Wildwood, New Jersey at a "Senior Week" party. He was transported by the North Wildwood Rescue Squad to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital for treatment. Amoroso died on June 17, 1992, while on the operating table. On June 15, 1994, Jeanne Amoroso, the mother of the deceased, brought wrongful death and survival damage claims against the various health care providers who rendered assistance to Michael Amoroso subsequent to the stabbing and immediately prior to his death. She also named as defendants the owners and property managers of the duplex where the stabbing occurred.
The plaintiff made a motion in limine on July 27, 1995, to determine the law applicable to her wrongful death and survival damages claims. She argues that Pennsylvania law should apply to the accident because there is no true conflict between Pennsylvania and New Jersey law and because, if there is a conflict, Pennsylvania has a greater interest in the outcome of the case. Defendants respond that there is a conflict between the states and that New Jersey law should apply because its interests in the result surpass Pennsylvania's interests.
The Court finds that there is a true conflict between Pennsylvania and New Jersey law. Although the wrongful death statutes of both states are identical, New Jersey's survival statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-3, does not permit the recovery of prospective lost earning capacity which is permitted in Pennsylvania under 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 3373 and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8302. The New Jersey Survival Act will be applied to determine the recovery under plaintiff's survival claim because i) all major acts occurred in New Jersey, ii) the deceased's presence in New Jersey was not fortuitous, and iii) New Jersey has an interest in determining the extent of the recovery to be afforded to nonresidents who vacation in this state as well as in the extent of liability of New Jersey medical services professionals and property owners.
Donald and Mary Loder own property at 209 E. 17th Street in North Wildwood, New Jersey which they rent to vacationers at the New Jersey shore. Powell, Inc. (the successor to McAlarnen Realty, Inc.) and Twin Power, Inc. (known as A.C. Chambers, Real Estate) were rental agents for the property. The Loders and the agents are New Jersey citizens. On November 3, 1991, A.C. Chambers, Real Estate acted as agent and executed lease agreements with Laura Maguire and Michael Seeds, high school students in Pennsylvania, to lease the two units at 209 E. 17th Street for the week of June 13, 1992, to June 20, 1992.
On June 14, 1992, the decedent, Michael Amoroso, travelled with friends to Cape May, New Jersey to participate in "Senior Week," a time when graduating seniors from Pennsylvania high schools go to New Jersey shore towns to celebrate. Michael Amoroso visited friends at 209 E. 17th Street in North Wildwood, New Jersey on June 16, 1992. Stephen Freeman, Michael Quinn, Michael Discher, and Paul Pellechia were also visiting with friends there at the same time.
Theresa Bridge-Jackson, M.D. and Warren Ventriglia, M.D. treated Amoroso in the emergency room of the hospital at approximately 11:00 p.m. on June 16, 1992. Both doctors are licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey and they work in the Cape May area. Amoroso was moved to the operating room of Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital by 11:38 p.m. Carmen Alameno, M.D. and Vinayak Sabnis, M.D., surgeons in the Cape May area who are licensed in New Jersey and are on staff at the Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital, performed a thoracotomy and sutured the right ventricle and right atrial appendage. Michael Amoroso died in the operating room at about 12:25 a.m. on June 17, 1992.
The plaintiff, Jeanne Amoroso, is the mother of the decedent and has been granted Letters of Administration for the Estate of Michael Amoroso, deceased, by the Register of Wills of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and Letters of Administration Ad Prosequendum for said decedent by the Surrogate of Cape May County. On June 15, 1994, plaintiff instituted an action against Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital, Carmen J. Alameno, M.D., Vinayak M. Sabnis, M.D., Vinayak M. Sabnis, M.D., P.A., Theresa Bridge-Jackson, M.D., Warren Ventriglia, M.D., North Wildwood Rescue Squad, Donald and Mary Loder, Powell, Inc., Twin Power, Inc., and a variety of John/Jane Doe defendants. These defendants are all New Jersey citizens.
North Wildwood Rescue Squad brought a third-party claim against Stephen Freeman and Atlantic/Cape Intensive Care Unit. Stephen Freeman brought a fourth-party claim against Michael Jerome Quinn, Michael James Discher, and Paul Joseph Pellechia, all of whom were allegedly involved in the fight during which Michael Amoroso was stabbed. Atlantic/Cape Intensive Care Unit is ...