On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Atlantic County, Docket #DC-97-4403.
Before Judges Wefing, Ciancia and Parrillo.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Parrillo, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: October 2, 2001
Defendants Thaddeus Bartkowski, Sr., and Ann C. Bartkowski- Parisi live in Pennsylvania and own a summer home in Atlantic County, New Jersey, where their minor child underwent emergency surgery at Shore Memorial Hospital for a lacerated wrist on July 13, 1993. Defendants were later billed $1860 for medical services rendered their son that they failed to pay despite having been reimbursed $1466 by the husband's health insurer, Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Consequently, the medical provider, plaintiff The Trocki Plastic Surgery Center, sued defendants and, after a non-jury trial, obtained judgment against them for $1860 in principal amount due for services rendered, plus $2188.32 in interest, $1086 in attorneys fees, and $53 in costs. The trial judge also granted plaintiff's post-judgment motion assessing defendants $2249 in additional counsel fees and costs as well as "any and all continuing counsel fees" pursuant to the frivolous litigation statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1.
Defendants appeal both determinations. We affirm the underlying judgment but reverse the award of frivolous-proceeding attorney's fees.
In challenging the underlying judgment, defendants raise the following issues:
I. THE PLAINTIFF FAILED TO PRODUCE EVIDENCE OF THE REASONABLENESS OF THE MEDICAL BILL OR THE REASONABLENESS OF MEDICAL SERVICES RENDERED OR ANY INFORMATION CONCERNING THE TYPE OF SERVICES RENDERED WHICH WAS THE BASIS OF THE MEDICAL BILL.
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING DEFENDANT THADDEUS BARTKOWSKI RESPONSIBLE FOR INTEREST AND ATTORNEY'S FEES.
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING INTEREST AT THE RATE OF 12% PER ANNUM AGAINST THADDEUS BARTKOWSKI FOR THE REASON THAT THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF AN AGREEMENT.
IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING ATTORNEY'S FEES AGAINST DEFENDANT ANN C. PARISI-BARTKOWSKI.
V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING ATTORNEY'S FEES AND INTEREST AGAINST ANN C. PARISI- BARTKOWSKI ...